Not everyone was watching the Olympics this weekend. Outside Lands once again veered away from the de facto festival live stream video platform, YouTube, as Superfly, the festival’s promoter, continued partnering with Verizon’s Go90 mobile video app and Aol.com (Verizon acquired AOL in 2015).
Chris Sampson of Superfly appeared on AOL Build along side one of the performing acts, Caveman, to discuss their partnership with Go90 and what both festival goers and festival viewers could expect this year, including Chocoland, a wooded area of the festival in Golden Gate park dedicated to everything chocolate. “If you’re not there, go to Go90 and you can learn more about that area and experience it a home,” said Sampson, “And it will make you want to go to Outside Lands next year.” If only Go90 also offered Smell-O-Vision.
Go90 is available to all in the U.S., including Verizon and non-Verizon customers. The Outside Lands webcast could be viewed on desktop in addition to the Go90 mobile app (available for iOS and Android). Verizon has gotten a lot of flack for Go90, mainly for having a weak array of content.
According to Recode, “Verizon is overlooking the fact that there’s already a ton of video to get elsewhere and is maybe banking too heavily on the idea that young viewers will download another video app unless the content is worthwhile, which as we already said is just meh.”
Even Verizon’s CEO, Lowell McAdam, has admitted that the company overhyped Go90 at the time of its launch, and that the area of content development isn’t the company’s strong suit. To overcome this weakness, Verizon has closed content deals with AwesomenessTV, DreamWorks, and Hearst.
A joint acquisition of Mark Ecko’s Complex Media network focused on millennial and Gen-Z males was also sealed between Verizon and Hearst, with the two companies forming a new Verizon Hearst Media Partners entity.
Complex features music, culture, and fashion content, and an online shop that sells street style wares. A few years ago Complex flexed its influencer muscle by venturing into multi-million dollar branded content deals such as Mountain Dew’s GreenLabel.com and the Dr. Pepper Music Studio.
When the pieces of the puzzle start to come together: Verizon acquiring AOL, Verizon acquiring Yahoo, the baby steps being taken in developing the Go90 mobile platform and the additional content deals, the evidence continues to build.
Verizon is going for mobile video gold.
They’ve been laying the foundation to become a major player in this space, relying on all current and future partnerships to provide the kind of engaging content that brings the millennial and Gen-Z consumers, the future generations of mobile subscribers that year over year will separate from their parent’s plan, to their door.
This is also a major play for the brands that have seen the fruits of their labor ripen with branded content versus traditional advertising channels. “We’re bigger than a lot of sites that we used to advertise on,” Jamal Henderson, a senior brand manager for Mountain Dew at PepsiCo, told Contently. “We’re pulling in five times more traffic than our regular MountainDew.com URL, and we’re exceeding four minutes per page and 10 pages per visit.” That was two years ago. It would be interesting to see where things stand now.
How far Verizon will take their mobile video content play and how it will stand to compete against Facebook and Google is uncertain, but one would expect more deals to follow, including festival and concert live stream partnerships. One low-hanging fruit fest is Complex’s #COMPLEXCON in Long Beach this November, a street-styled makers convention and festival branded as “Our generation’s worlds fair.”
For those Verizon customers that live streamed Outside Lands on the Go90 mobile app, data charges did not apply, which sparked a net neutrality backlash, with some calling bullshit on their sponsored content argument.
There are no signs yet if Verizon will follow the path of T-Mobile’s Binge On plan that offers a number of entertainment channels, none of which it owns, with no data caps on viewing and listening, including Netflix, Spotify, HBO, NBCSports, YouTube Music, and yes, even Go90.