Verizon Reorganizes Internally; Focus on 5G, Not OTT Video Content

With more than 150 million subscribers, Verizon is the largest wireless telecommunications operator in the United States. It also does not have a proprietary over-the-top video platform – despite spending more than $1 billion on the short-lived Go90 app, which included some original content.

New CEO Hans Vestberg Nov. 5 announced an internal management restructure that focuses on the consumer, business and media (including Oath) – apparently in that order.

“We’re building on our network transformation efforts … to deliver new customer experiences and optimize the growth opportunities we see as leaders in the 5G era,” Vestberg said in a statement. “We’re focused on how our technology can benefit customers’ lives and society at large.”

Verizon says its media group “sits at the intersection of media, advertising and technology,” with the goal of helping people access and receive media, entertainment, gaming, news, commerce and other services.

It will continue to be led by Guru Gowrappan, who was previously announced as Oath CEO. Former boss Tim Armstrong departed the subsidiary – which includes Yahoo, AOL, HuffPost, BrightRoll, and EdgeCast, among others – earlier this year, reportedly over disagreements with Vestberg regarding his decision to focus on technology rather than video content.

Indeed, last month Verizon launched 5G network coverage in four cities: Los Angeles, Houston, Indianapolis and Sacramento, Calif. Rollout included the choice of a free Apple TV with 4K functionality or Google Chromecast device, and 90-days of access to online TV platform YouTube TV.

“The world’s first commercial 5G service is here,” Ronan Dunne, president of Verizon Wireless, said on Oct. 1. Dunne will now also oversee the consumer segment, focusing on wireless and wireline business segments, including wireless wholesale.

The focus on technology over content echoed former CEO Lowell McAdam’s comments on a fiscal call earlier this year.

“We are not going to be owning content,” McAdam said on the Q2 call. “We’re not going to compete with content. We’re going to be the best partner for the content distribution business.”

Those statements were followed up in May when McAdam told Yahoo Finance Verizon was scuttling plans to launch an OTT video service.

“Our view is that we should partner with those that are in the linear game,” McAdam said. “Let them be very good at what they do. We’ll add digital content into that mix, and we’ll position ourselves for where we become more of an over-the-top video culture versus the linear model that we have today.”

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