Verizon Closing Go90 in July, Ending Nearly Three-Year Run
After a nearly three-year journey, Verizon announced it will close Go90, its mobile video platform for young people, on July 31. Go90 launched on October 1, 2015, offering free ad-supported content from cable networks. The platform emphasized social features, as viewers were able to follow people and "crews," and make and share clips from videos they were watching.
There were signs Go90 was in trouble before this, such as in January 2017 when Verizon laid off 155 Go90 employees and had the platform rebuilt by the team from Vessel (which Verizon had acquired). The platform emphasized online originals, such as "MVP" starring Rob Gronkowski. However, poor audience engagement numbers made it hard to keep advertisers. Despite the massive overhaul, Verizon denied it was changing its strategy.
An even bigger sign of trouble came in February 2018, when Oath CEO Tim Armstrong said Go90 would become part of Oath with a new role as a content engine for various platforms within the organization.
“The brand will remain, I don’t know how long for,” Armstrong said, foreshadowing today's news.
Even though Verizon invested $1.2 billion on Go90, Digiday reports, the platform was never able to find an audience. Show and content rights for original series will revert to their production partners. Verizon said the closure won't lead to significant layoffs.
The short-form mobile video service will partner with T-Mobile for its April 2020 launch, but what that means is unclear. Can subscribers expect a discount?
With Oath focused on distribution at scale and building an audience across platforms, a standalone video service just didn't make sense.
There are some major sports stars on Go90 series MVP—including New England Patriot Rob Gronkowski, one of the show's producers—but they're not the ones throwing pitches.
Verizon's free app-based video bundle for mobile-using millennials never found an audience. Now, the team behind Vessel will rebuild it.
Go90 viewers will soon be able to watch daily NBA highlights and some exclusive content, and purchase access out-of-market games.
The streaming service will launch on iOS and Android on Thursday, providing a millennial-oriented, mobile-first take on OTT video.