HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif.—While Verizon has yet to pull the plug on its two-year-old mobile video platform, Go90, a content executive here at the Streaming Media West conference said the service is an indicator that the platform’s struggles prove to a degree that mobile-only initiatives don’t work.
“Have you ever tried to watch a horror movie on a small screen?” asked Michele Edelman, executive VP of marketing and cloud strategy for Vubiquity. “It’s not scary. And screen size has something to do with that, for sure.
“Go90 tried to tell us, ‘Watch this way,'” Edelman added, gesturing with her hands as if watching video on an imaginary smartphone. “But it didn’t take off.”
Her colleague on the panel titled “Predicting the TV Content Consumers Crave,” Sherry Brennan, senior VP of distribution for Fox Networks, suggested the Verizon problems stem not so much from endemic platform flaws as just mediocre content execution.
“I just think the content wasn’t that great,” Brennan said.
Also appearing on the panel, Jamison Tilsner, director of business development for Vimeo, suggested that Verizon still has time to save Go90 from extinction.
“I think its demise is being prematurely announced,” Tilsner said. "I’ll bet Verizon has learned a huge amount, if nothing else. They’re so big, they’ll figure it out at some state."
Go90’s primary content strategy now is cornering the market on what it calls “premium midform content,” or video content that slots between the less-than-10-minute clips that dominate social media and the more-than-30-minute shows and films popular on SVODs like Amazon, Hulu and Netflix.
The continued push forward with Go90 comes in spite of Verizon losing Marni Walden, its executive vice president of media, who is leaving in 2018 after heading up the Verizon video team which encompasses Fios, Hearst joint venture Complex, Hearst and Comcast joint venture AwesomenessTV, and the recently acquired Vessel.
After Verizon laid off 155 employees at Go90 earlier this year and lost General Manager Chip Canter, Vessel co-founder and CTO Richard Tom took over Canter’s role at Go90.
Shortly after, former CBS alternative programming chief Chris Castallo was brought on board at Go90 to work under Chief Content Officer Ivana Kirkbride.
Steve Woolf, formerly head of networks at AwesomenessTV, came on as head of programming for Go90, and Ryan Blood was hired as director of content strategy and acquisition for Verizon Media. Brian Angiolet, Verizon’s senior VP and global chief media and content officer, runs the platform.