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With Yahoo Deal Done, Verizon Digital Network Steps Into Spotlight

Now that Verizon has finally completed its acquisition of Yahoo, the telco giant is looking to turn the focus on the sum of all its new parts.

That was the message at Vidcon Thursday from Marni Walden, executive VP and president of media and telematics at Verizon, who brought her executive team together for a first-time presentation at a conference she acknowledged was more likely to view the company as a wireless provider than a player in media.

But now that Yahoo has helped dramatically expand its global scale to reach over 1 billion users, Verizon is busy filling the pipeline to which it sells access. “Beyond the network, we have aspirations for what we want to do: build applications and services that ride on the network,” said Walden (pictured above).

Vidcon provided Verizon the opportunity to showcase the pieces of a puzzle that it has been assembling for over a decade when you look back to its first foray in the video provider business, with its Fios service. Fast-forward and Fios is now joined by the newly christened Oath, which includes Yahoo and another big acquisition, AOL; Complex, its joint venture with Hearst; AwesomenessTV, its joint venture with Hearst and Comcast; deals with NFL and NBA for live games; and its own streaming platform, go90, which has been buttressed by another more recent acquisition, Vessel.

Taken together, what Walden dubbed the Verizon Digital Network reaches 160 million monthly unique users across 50 different premium brands with a diversity of business models, some of which offer advertisers a broad array of demographics and genres.

Brian Angiolet, senior VP of media and entertainment at Verizon, boasted that the company is working on a system that can cross-promote programming in real time. “The intent is if you have a particular piece of content, we can turn on that amplification system to drive tune-in,” he said.

Acknowledging that go90 has had its difficulties getting traction in the marketplace since launching last year, Verizon execs pledged to position the streaming service to seize what it described as an opportunity to be the destination of choice for viewing times between 10-30 minutes, what it calls “premium midform.” The company cited research that showed social networks are dominating content-watching that lasts less than 10 minutes, while the post-30 minute viewing is owned by subscriber VOD options including Netflix.

In support of that programming strategy, Verizon has already commissioned 1,400 hours of exclusive original content. The company announced its intent to offer creators production resources in a studio space it owns in Playa Vista, Calif. “We want you to achieve  your most creative ambitious goals and we want to be part of that journey with you,”  said go90 chief content officer Ivana Kirkbride.

Kirkbride also nnounced that go90 struck a multi-year deal with Warner Bros. Digital Network, which will supply the platform with content from its brands including Machinima and Blue Ribbon.

In a separate keynote Q&A earlier in the day, new AwesomenessTV CEO Jordan Levin talked up his company’s ability to target Generation Z users with content designed to resonate with that demographic. He also praised the company’s parents for allowing him to grow AwesomenessTV without having to feel the quarter-by-quarter financial pressures. “They’re not looking for an exit, they’re not driven by economic realities that a lot of digital companies feel,” said Levin, who came to AwesomenessTV after a stint at NFL.

 

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