Another ambitious premium content digital venture that had brought in top-level TV executives is folding before launch.
Verizon and AwesomenessTV have scrapped plans for their announced premium content service, with Samie Falvey, Chief Creative Officer, leaving and her team, led by SVP Creative Russell Rothberg, disbanded.
The new service, wholly-owned by AwesomenessTV, which was to be a stand-alone brand and business — separate from Verizon’s Go90 — stemmed from a deal last April in which Verizon bought a 24.5% stake in AwesomenessTV. It was to feature premium short-form mobile content for a variety of audiences on par with the highest-end content seen on TV and featuring top talent in front and behind the camera. Instead, the companies’ content development and production will focus on Go90.
“The most important part of the Awesomeness/Verizon go90 partnership is our premium content, and the success of Guidance and T@gged have shown what we can do together,” the two companies said in a statement. “Rather than launch a new and separate venture, we decided to instead double down on the Awesomeness episodic series output for Go90 and also extend the term of our relationship to best build on the momentum we are seeing with our Gen Z target audience.”
Falvey left her post as EVP Comedy Development and International Scripted Development at ABC to join AwesomenessTV in August. She then recruited former Universal TV head of drama Rothberg.
“We are big fans of Samie and the super creative team she assembled,” said Brett Bouttier, President, AwesomenessTV. “We are grateful to have worked with her and her team and are eager to find ways to work with them going forward.”
The shutdown of the Verizon/AwesomenessTV venture, first reported by Variety, underscores the challenges and pitfalls of entering the expensive premium content digital space.
Microsoft’s Xbox made a big push in the arena with the Xbox Studios, led by former top CBS and the WB executives Nancy Tellem and Jordan Levin. The venture put a slew of original series in development but ultimately folded before any of the scripted offerings got off the ground.
Snapchat made a similar effort, hiring former Fox head of comedy Marcus Wiley to build an original content slate for the Snap Channel, but it too soon pulled the plug after realizing the costs involved.