Shammo on Go90: ‘We Have to Get the Viewership Up’

Verizon is giving Go90, its new “mobile-first” OTT service some time to catch on and evolve in the coming years, but the company acknowledges that it would like to see the offering attract more eyeballs.

Go90 offers a new strategic direction that’s pleasing for advertisers, “but we have to get the viewership up,” Fran Shammo, Verizon’s EVP and CFO, said Tuesday at the Morgan  Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in San Francisco.

He said Go90’s ability target younger audiences is worth more than a “blanket TV ad” that spans multiple segments to some advertisers that are trying to connect with millennials.

 “This was not something launched last year that would take off immediately like a new smartphone,” Shammo said of Go90, noting that the service has seen some traction around its NBA coverage, music offerings and content from partners such as AwesomenessTV. “This is going to be a progression and evolution for us over the next two to three years.

“We’ll continue to evolve this product through 2016,” he said.

And it will continue to monetize Go90 via advertising models, including FreeBee Data, a sponsored data service that Verizon’s been trialing, but will launch commercially on March 5.

“Advertisers are excited about the prospects around Go90,” he said.

Shammo was also asked to discuss Custom TV, FiOS TV’s slimmed-down offering that was  recently reshaped and split into two packages, including one that now includes ESPN.

Shammo said the take rate under the revised Custom TV offerings are at about 40%, noting that FiOS TV is also seeing some uptake of its add-on packages.  

Looking ahead, the exec sees “more conflict between content and linear TV providers…I think it’s just the nature of what’s going to happen in this ecosystem.” But he was likewise hopeful that content distribution deals for Go90 will give Verizon more leverage in its carriage negotiations for FiOS TV.

Shammo also said Verizon was interested, but not yet ready to commit, to making a move for some Yahoo assets that are on the block.

“We’ll look at every single opportunity, whether it's an opportunity to divest some of our portfolio or whether it’s an opportunity to acquire that we believe will increase our shareholder value,” he said. “Yahoo falls into that bucket.”

He said it’s premature to commit to anything beyond that “because I don’t think anybody knows what’s under the hood yet…That’s just an opportunity that we’ll look at.”