Verizon Media Providing USO Free Use of Streaming Platform for Virtual Shows

Verizon Media is providing the USO free use of its digital media streaming platform to help deliver its famous tours virtually.

In the age of COVID-19, the USO can't mount the in-person shows that have become its hallmark--its tours were suspended last month--but it can do so remotely with the help of Verizon Media, whose streaming platform will also be used to share programming with military spouses and families, who can also use a morale boost.

"With the help of military supporters, the entertainment industry and USO partners, we are providing virtual engagements and programming to boost morale during the pandemic," said USO COO Alan Reyes. "Together, we are expressing our nation's gratitude for all that the military community is doing to help protect us and reduce the spread of COVID-19."

Programming, which has already started, includes David Boreanaz (CBS's SEAL Team) participating in video calls to service members at USO Al Asad in Iraq and Martha Stewart also hosting a cookie-decorating session.

The remote USO programming will include virtual base visits and one-on-one calls between celebrities and service members (Ne-Yo, Gillian Flynn, Sarah Silverman are among the big names participating), plus "pre-screening events, online workshops, classes, Q&As and digital subscriptions for service members and military families."

Hosting the programming will be Discovery Networks' Chris Jacobs.

In addition, a USO gaming channel will be launching on Twitch with NBA and NFL players competing virtually with service members.

"Verizon Media is proud to support the USO with a world-class streaming delivery platform," said Guru Gowrappan, CEO, Verizon Media, in a statement. "During this global pandemic, a few hours of entertainment can make a difference to our brave service members who are putting themselves in harm's way."

Verizon is also chipping in some money to help fund USO care packages.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.