Verizon has backed away from previously announced plans to develop a premium content service with AwesomenessTV for its go90 mobile video platform.
According to a report from Variety, Verizon is dropping its bid to launch the standalone service, and instead plans to focus its efforts with AwesomenessTV on “episodic series output for go90,” Verizon said in statement to the magazine. The carrier said it will also extend its relationship with AwesomenessTV to “best build on the momentum we are seeing with our Gen Z target audience.”
Variety reported former ABC Entertainment comedy head Sammie Kim Falvey, who was recruited to head the now defunct venture, is leaving as a result of the change.
The news follows revelations last month that Verizon laid off 155 employees, mainly from its go90 unit. At the time, the carrier was part of a move to consolidate disparate offices in Los Angeles, San Jose, and New York.
The layoff, and the AwesomenessTV news are likely a surprise to few, as Verizon has seemingly struggled to get go90 off the ground since its launch in October 2015.
Back in August, the Wall Street Journal reported go90 advertisers were disappointed by slower-than-anticipated uptake of the mobile video app. And it doesn’t seem things have gotten much better since then.
In its third quarter 2016 earnings call, Verizon indicated average daily usage of the app had finally surpassed 30 minutes per viewer, with less than 20 percent of traffic served on Verizon’s own network. And Verizon Executive Vice President Marni Walden noted in September live sports, live music, and concerts are among the content genres taking off on the platform.
But at the Code Media conference on Monday, comments from AwesomenessTV CEO Brian Robbins about the state of go90 sounded decidedly less upbeat. According to Robbins, progress on the platform is “really slow, slow going.”