CEO Lowell McAdam offered a few more details this morning about Verizon’s plan to offer a TV-like service over the Internet, a market that Sony and Dish Network also hope to lead. The telco expects by mid-2015 it will offer mobile users a “bundle with major broadcast providers” plus a collection of “custom channels,” he said today at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference. “It’s the Big 4 for sure, and I would tell you that the very exciting part of this is some of the digital media out of the West Coast” including DreamWorks Annimation’s AwesomenessTV “that really goes after the millenials. It’s targeted content.” He also noted that Verizon Wireless offers fast speeds for those who want to upload content. “When you get more and more to user generated content, that’s a competitive advantage.”
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McAdam says Verizon’s still talking to big content providers, including some that once feared a virtual pay TV system might jeopardize their ability to require cable and satellite subscribers to pay for channels they don’t watch. “There’s no doubt in my mind we can make it a win-win….Over the last six months to a year that dialogue has changed dramatically.”
But he adds that the days of the pay TV bundle are numbered. “No one wants to have 300 channels on your wireless. Everyone understands it will go to a la carte. The question is what does that transition look like.” Those who want to protect linear TV to the TV set are “the ones who’ll be left behind.” Millennials “really do want to look at this content on their iPads” and other devices.” He doesn’t believe that will threaten pay TV distributors, including Verizon FiOS. “Nobody makes much money at this point in distributing content.” A model of 20 customized channels delivered over the Internet “would be terrific.”
On other matters, McAdam says that his company — which has a strong relationship with the NFL — supports Commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling of the former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice after a video surfaced showed him punching his then-fiancee, now wife. “I don’t have any inside information, but what I’ve seen — the spitting and violence — were a cowardly act in my view. But there’s “not a conspiracy to cover it up.”
McAdam also used the platform to challenge the view that the FCC can only protect net neutrality by reclassifying it as a regulated communications service, instead of a largely unregulated information service. “We don’t manipulate content,” he says — adding that he doesn’t mind if the FCC applies to wireless providers the rules it has for wired ones. “We want to make sure the network is secure, give people access wherever they want.” But reclassification “would put companies under the regime of Europe… All that capital investment would be in jeopardy.” He added that none of the major players in Silicon Valley, who support an open Internet, “feels that static regulation in such a dynamic industry would serve us well.”
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