From Kanye to bust: Verizon is shutting down Go90, ending an expensive effort at mobile video streaming
Verizon is finally calling it quits on its expensive mobile video bet, Go90.
The wireless communications giant is shutting down the mobile video streaming service, which it launched in October 2015, according to four sources familiar with the situation. Go90 representatives have begun informing content partners about plans to end both the Go90 brand and the video streaming app by July 31, sources said. Go90 will also return the shows and all content rights back to its production partners, which included companies ranging from AwesomenessTV to Vice Media.
The move will end an expensive endeavor for Verizon, which over the years spent a significant amount of money on both content acquisition and marketing costs on Go90. It’s unclear exactly how much Verizon spent on Go90 over the years, but two sources close to Go90 estimated that the total cost for was roughly $1.2 billion. Another source close to Verizon disputed that figure and said the total cost was less than $300 million.
“Following the creation of Oath, Go90 will be discontinued,” said a Verizon spokesperson in a statement. “Verizon will focus on building its digital-first brands at scale in sports, finance, news and entertainment for today’s mobile consumers and tomorrow’s 5G applications.”
The service launched to great fanfare — Kanye West performed at the launch event — as Verizon attempted to build a mobile video streaming platform that could sit somewhere between Netflix and YouTube by providing TV-quality short-form and mid-form original series. (Go90 also offered licensed TV episodes and even live sports on the platform.) But Go90 consistently struggled to attract viewers who were used to YouTube for their short-form video needs, and Netflix and other streaming giants for other professionally produced, TV-quality programming.
In recent months, Verizon had moved many Go90 employees — many of whom came over as part of an acquisition of another ill-fated mobile video platform, Vessel — across various departments inside Oath, the digital publishing and technology company formed by the merger of AOL and Yahoo. According to a source, there were roughly a dozen employees working for Go90 in recent months. A source said there will be no personnel changes for now, and resources will be rerouted toward the various publishing and distribution platforms controlled by Oath.
Go90 did see some successes on the creative front, such as winning an Oscar for its “Dear Basketball” short film with Kobe Bryant. But sources admit that Go90 struggled to find an audience as a stand-alone app and that it made more sense to distribute original programming on Oath. Once Oath began distributing Go90 programming across its media properties, more than 17 million people were watching Go90 programming, according to Verizon.
Go90’s shutdown does not come as much of a surprise, especially in light of Oath CEO Tim Armstrong’s comments at a Recode event earlier this year. When asked if Go90 would remain, Armstrong said: “The brand will remain, I don’t know how long for.”
This story has been updated to include a statement from Verizon as well as information clarifying how much Verizon supposedly spent on Go90.
Member ExclusiveFuture of TV Briefing: How the creator economy’s power balance has shifted since the era of multichannel networks
The Future of TV Briefing this week explores how the balance of power is shifting between individual video creators and the companies that have built businesses around them.
How publishers like ESPN are assessing their TikTok videos’ performance
Video makers are looking beyond standard view counts and monitoring their videos’ average completion rates, view growth rates and views from non-followers to better understand what appeals to audiences and TikTok’s algorithms.
Member ExclusiveFuture of TV Briefing: How the TV ad measurement landscape has changed since summer
The Future of TV Briefing this week reviews the flurry of activity on the TV ad measurement front since the summer when the Media Rating Council stripped Nielsen of its accreditation and NBCUniversal opened the doors to alternative providers.
SponsoredHow advertisers are shifting mindsets to succeed amid iOS 15 and other identity challenges
On top of the impending cookie deprecation, Apple’s recent iOS 15 changes are causing concern for many advertisers by affecting pixels, IP addresses and email addresses. While these upcoming changes may be concerning for many, shifting mindsets and getting away from a binary way of thinking with solutions being 100% contextual or 100% universal IDs […]
Tastemade adds programs to sell and manage subscriptions, events for creators
Creators are able to sell multi-tiered subscription packages through Tastemade as well as tickets to virtual and in-person events, with 85% to 90% of revenue going to the creator.
Member ExclusiveFuture of TV Briefing: Streaming services’ subscriber growth slowed during the third quarter of 2021
The Future of TV Briefing this week looks at the broad deceleration in quarter-over-quarter streaming subscriber growth that took place over the summer into the fall.