Verizon Communications will carry Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel and other cable nets in its forthcoming wireless over-the-top subscription-video service, after reaching a multiyear content-licensing agreement with Scripps Networks Interactive.
The deal for the service — slated to launch sometime in the second half of the year — includes content from Scripps brands including Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, DIY Network and Cooking Channel. More than 45 of Scripps’ lifestyle series will be available for streaming on the mobile first video offering including Food’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” (pictured above), HGTV’s “House Hunters,” Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods,” DIY’s “Rehab Addict” and Cooking Channel’s “My Grandmother’s Ravioli.”
Verizon, looking to build momentum in striking agreements with programmers, has previously announced licensing pacts for the OTT service with Viacom; AwesomenessTV, majority-owned by DreamWorks Animation; and ESPN, CBS Sports, ACC Digital Network, Campus Insiders and Time Inc.-backed 120 Sports to carry select college-sports programming.
For Scripps’ part, it doesn’t want to miss the boat if the OTT trend takes off in a sizable way. “Great content will always connect with audiences, and this agreement with Verizon provides new and existing viewers with another way to engage with our powerful lifestyle brands,” said Henry Ahn, exec VP of content distribution for Scripps Networks Interactive.
The Verizon Wireless OTT service is targeted at younger consumers who are loath to subscribe to traditional pay-TV packages — including, by the way, the telco’s own FiOS TV — and who primarily consume content on mobile devices. The telco’s service will compete to some extent with Dish Network’s Sling TV and Sony’s PlayStation Vue, which similarly offer pay-TV packages delivered over the Internet.
On Tuesday, Verizon closed the $4.4 billion acquisition of AOL, which the company has said will provide it with ad-serving technology it plans to use in the Internet-video service. In addition, the telco could feature AOL video content in the OTT offering; indeed, Huffington Post’s expanded HuffPost 24 linear digital network appears poised to join the lineup.