×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Verizon, Hearst Form Digital Video Joint Venture

Two initial channels, RatedRed.com and Seriously.TV, slated to launch this spring

Verizon and Hearst have pacted on a 50-50 joint venture to create and launch digital-video channels with original programming aimed at younger, mobile-skewing consumers.

Under the newly formed Verizon Hearst Media Partners, the companies plan to launch two channels this spring: RatedRed.com, a lifestyle brand aimed at millennials in “red states,” and Seriously.TV, a news-comedy channel styled on late-night TV formats.

The companies would not reveal what they are investing in the JV. Both parties will invest capital into Verizon Hearst Media Partners, based in New York City, and contribute personnel and other resources. Verizon said it will bring technology, ad sales and distribution reach to the JV, coupled with Hearst’s digital video content and production capabilities.

Neeraj Khemlani, co-president of Hearst Entertainment & Syndication, said the time is ripe to establish new online entertainment outlets, likening the state of digital video today with the early days of cable TV. “Basically we’re watching history repeat itself,” he said. “When cable started you had the news channel, the business channel, the music channel. We’re in the first innings of building millennial video brands.”

Verizon plans to feed the JV’s channels into the Go90 ad-supported mobile-video service, with select programming distributed across AOL (which Verizon acquired last year). Content from the Verizon-Hearst channels also will be distributed on YouTube and other platforms and licensors, including potentially traditional TV networks.

To date, Verizon has been stocking Go90 with content licensed or acquired from media companies and digital studios. Now it’s going to have a more direct hand in producing mobile-oriented video for the service.

“As our platform for distribution expands, we wanted to shepherd the growth of these digital channels,” said Brian Angiolet, Verizon’s senior VP of consumer product and marketing. “This is an opportunity to get into the ground floor with audiences that aren’t adopting pay TV at all.”

In 2014, AT&T — Verizon’s chief rival — created a similar joint venture with the Chernin Group aimed at the digital-video space. Content from the Otter Media JV will be part of AT&T’s forthcoming DirecTV Preview free over-the-top service. In addition, Otter Media-owned Fullscreen is working on a subscription-streaming service, which is slated to debut in the second quarter, John Stankey, CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group, said at an investor conference Wednesday.

The two first Verizon Hearst Media Partners channels will target what Khemlani argues are “blank spaces,” with content for audiences underserved by the market.

RatedRed.com will be programmed for millennials from “the heartland,” with news, documentaries and scripted and nonscripted series spanning topics including music, food, outdoor life, military affairs, politics and faith. Seriously.TV will serve “comedic news updates” throughout the day as news breaks, which is especially relevant given that 2016 is an election year, Khemlani said.

The companies expect the channels to launch in time for the Digital Content NewFronts in early May, the annual series of presentations for advertisers and media buyers.

Hearst has invested in other millennial-focused digital players, with ownership stakes in Vice Media, BuzzFeed, AwesomenessTV and Complex. Those interests will be separate from the Verizon Hearst Media Partners business, according to Khemlani.

More Digital

  • Outlander Season 4

    Starz Available for $5 a Month for Three Months Through the Holidays

    Starz is having an online holiday sale: The premium cable network is selling three months of its online streaming service for $5 per month, down from the regular price of $8.99 per month. The offer is available to new users who sign up until the end of December. Subscribers also get a 7-day free trial, [...]

  • Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg Strictly

    Listen: Jeffrey Katzenberg, Meg Whitman Go Long on Short-Form Entertainment

    One is a legend in the media business, the other in the tech world. But together Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman are intent on bringing the best of both worlds together for their ambitious new venture: Quibi. On the latest episode of the Variety podcast Strictly Business, the dynamic duo shared their battle plan to [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron, Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de

    Alfonso Cuaron Says 'Roma' Is Better in Theaters

    Director Alfonso Cuaron opted to work with Netflix for his latest film “Roma,” but the decorated filmmaker isn’t discounting the importance of a big-screen viewing. “The complete experience of ‘Roma’ is unquestionably in a movie theater,” Cuaron said Monday night at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles for the premiere of “Roma.”  The streaming giant did [...]

  • virtual reality

    How VR Is Being Used to Help Children With Learning Disabilities, Autism

    The United States Department of Education is betting on virtual reality to help students with high-functioning autism and learning disabilities in schools across the country. This month the Office of Special Education and Programs announced its investment of $2.5 million toward a new program that will use VR to nurture social skills in students with [...]

  • Acorn TV

    AMC’s Best-of-British Streamer Acorn TV Launches in 30 New Territories

    Acorn TV launched in 30 new markets Tuesday, the biggest wave of international launches to date for the AMC-owned streaming service, which focuses on British and English-language drama. The platform is now live in Australia and New Zealand, India, Spain, the Nordics, the Benelux countries and South Africa. The international rollout started in June, when Acorn [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content