- Verizon intends to take its content hub +play wider and is experimenting with novel forms of mobile-first interactive content
- Its main aim is to showcase the benefits of 5G, fast becoming ubiquitous across the States.
READ MORE: Fine-Tuning TV: Top Executives on Content and Distribution Strategies for the Streaming Transition
Verizon’s aim is to entice subscribers to its 5G plan and one of the ways it is doing it is by experimenting with new content formats.
“We are dabbling in funding content when it demonstrates the capabilities of 5G,” explained Erin McPherson, chief content officer of Verizon Consumer Group, in discussion with Variety’s Todd Spangler during a recent episode of Variety’s “Strictly Business” podcast.
McPherson explained Verizon’s goal is to become a friendly-but-not-competitive portal to help Hollywood with content aggregation.
“Our originals are specific to building out new models for 5G. We’re partnered with Snap as the distribution window for a lot of this. That’s where it would be different [to Netflix]. They’re being experienced through Snap AR lenses. And we’re experimenting with whether customers will buy something like ‘Iago,’ the Viola Davis original. Will they pay for a gamified version of building the Perfect Man with Mr. Wright? We’re just early days figuring out what people want to experience in an immersive or interactive way on their phone. What are they willing to pay for?”
The examples she cited include a collaboration with Paul Feig and Diana Snyder on the #MrRightApp, of which McPherson said, “I know that we’re in a non-binary world, but it’s a very cute rom-com that would skew to a more female skewing audience. That’s part of why we loved it. We want to serve diverse interests.”
Viola Davis is another example. Through her production company JuVee Productions she developed Iago: The Green Eyed Monster — a musical AR experience and sci-fi take on Shakespeare’s Othello, which premiered at Tribeca.
Verizon has also partnered with NFL and sports betting and with Live Nation, producing AR maps for concert goers.
“What’s great is we see the same excitement in Hollywood that I remember seeing early days of web video,” McPherson said.
Last year, the operator launched content platform +play and partnerships with Netflix, Peloton and Live Nation’s Veeps featuring leading services like Disney+, discovery+, A+E Networks and AMC+. The hub is intended to give Verizon customers a simple and efficient way to access and take advantage of exclusive deals for content services.
“It’s the result of a lot of years of internal work to get the company in a good place to be a partner of choice for all of these SVODs coming to market,” said McPherson.
5G would proliferate the ease of mobile viewing and wireless internet, she added. “One of the easiest, most immediate changes I think we’ll see is high speed internet available wirelessly. The proliferation of our fixed wireless access business and that of our competitors are selling wireless home connectivity that can power work, gaming, entertainment. That’s just a very easy example.
“We like to talk about AR/VR and immersive experiences and all the cool stuff that 5G will do, and it will. But if you really think about the most immediate, I think impact for many consumers would be very viable wireless connectivity solutions for your house.”
Also on the Variety podcast, Pearlena Igbokwe, chairman of Universal Studio Group, details how the studio’s strategy is to sell content far and wide to outside platforms — and hopes that pending strikes don’t derail this.
“You can’t produce a show without people that are in those unions, (Writers Guild),” she said. “I definitely do not wanna be a doomsayer. I absolutely hope not [but] you know we’re very supportive of [resolving] whatever the issues are to everyone’s satisfaction.”
She added, “I love being on the studio side. We’re the people making things. And if you’re making good things and good shows, there will be a marketplace for it.”