Verizon took another step back from content ownership, as media giant Viacom announced plans to acquire the operator’s joint media venture, AwesomenessTV.
Verizon’s go90 mobile video effort set to be shuttered at the end of July,
Verizon has co-owned AwesomenessTV with NBCUniversal (itself owned by Comcast) and Hearst since 2016, when it reportedly paid around $160 million to acquire a 24.5 per cent stake.
Financial terms of the deal with Viacom were not disclosed, but CNBC reported the sale price was “well below $300 million”. Sources for The Hollywood Reporter pegged the figure even lower, at “around $25 million plus some debt”.
Verizon originally sought to develop a premium video content service with AwesomenessTV separate from go90, but that plan was scrapped in February 2017. The operator instead turned to AwesomenessTV to produce additional content for the now-failed video app.
The decision to sell off AwesomenessTV isn’t surprising given go90’s pending shutdown, and comes as part of Verizon’s shift away from content ownership in favour of distribution.
During the operator’s recent Q2 earnings call, outgoing CEO Lowell McAdam said Verizon is “not going to be owning content” going forward, and will instead position itself as a premium distribution partner for content providers using its 5G service and network of Oath properties.