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

  • Alphabet - Google app

    Google Big Gaming Unveil Will Include Hands-On With Tech

    Google’s unveiling of its take on the future of gaming will kick-off the second day of the annual Game Developers Conference and will include hands-on time with some of the tech unveiled at the event, Variety has learned. While there’s no word on what that hardware will be, the news does serve as greater confirmation of [...]

  • The myspace website viewed on an

    Musicians Freak Out as They Belatedly Learn Myspace Lost 50 Million Songs

    Myspace-related news travels very, very slowly in the late 2010s. So while the company had quietly acknowledged a massive data loss in response to user inquiries last year, it took until this weekend for the greater public to begin to become aware that all music uploaded to the site prior to 2015 has now migrated [...]

  • QueenNaija_Trailer

    Queen Naija Gets Docu-Series From MTV, Available on Facebook and YouTube

    Viral R&B star Queen Naija is featured in MTV’s newest digital original series, “The Birth of Queen Naija,” The first episode of the three-part docu-series launched Monday (March 18) on MTV Facebook, with the other installments to be released on following Mondays. “The Birth of Queen Naija” will also be available MTV YouTube on Fridays, [...]

  • Tencent's Penguin Pictures Amps up Documentary

    Tencent's Penguin Pictures Amps up Documentary Mission

    Tencent Penguin Pictures grew out of Tencent Video to bring content to the Chinese tech giant’s video streaming platform — one of the world’s largest by user numbers. It is distinct from Tencent Pictures, another production division, which is more closely tied to Tencent’s own IP through its online literature, comics and gaming sectors. Penguin’s [...]

  • FilMart: HBO Asia CEO Jonathan Spink

    FilMart: HBO Asia CEO Jonathan Spink Praises Local Content Strategy

    CEO of HBO Asia since 2003, Jonathan Spink has seen the growth of pay-TV in Asia, the moves towards content localization and original production, and has faced up to the challenge of internet-based streaming services. He joins Variety on Monday in a keynote presentation at Hong Kong’s FilMart, and is expected to unveil an expanded [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content