Verizon CEO Eyes More Mobile Sports Content Deals

At a big UBS investor conference, Lowell McAdam signals interest in out-of-market football games, but emphasizes that TV rights owners want to ensure they don't cannibalize their live audiences.

NEW YORK – Verizon chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam on Monday discussed mobile video opportunities for the telecom giant, particularly in sports.

The company previously live streamed, on smartphones and tablets for the first time, the Super Bowl, via an NFL app in a deal with CBS Sports. At a UBS investor conference, he was asked if there could be more such deals. McAdam said that Verizon could partner with other sports networks, leagues or video app providers for similar opportunities in the future.

And he said that Verizon was, in general, looking to make more content available on mobile devices outside the home, and especially sports. He said that such industry leaders as CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves, who will speak at the conference later, and he have discussed "how to bring more content out of the house."

Asked what sports offers Verizon was interested in offering via mobile devices, he said sports leagues have an interest in making out-of-market games available to a broader audience. TV rights holders are "careful about (not) cannibalizing day-of-broadcast" audiences, and "there are a lot of content rights that need to be worked through," McAdam emphasized. But he said that games could be offered with a delay of 3-4 days or even two weeks and still offer "a real win-win" for Verizon and content firms.

"The market has demonstrated that it wants it," he argued before predicting: "Within the next two years, you will see some dramatic change in viewership."

Asked if there was revenue for Verizon to be made from sports, McAdam said that the NFL app is free, but attractive content boosts mobile usage, plus the app offers premium services on top of the free usage, which brings in additional revenue. "That is our formula going forward," McAdam said about the mix of free and premium offers.

Early on Monday, Verizon also announced that it has agreed to acquire EdgeCast, a company that operates content delivery networks. The firm said the deal would help it "to further improve and increase its ability to meet the exponential growth in online digital media content."

EdgeCast's services will allow the insertion of ads and the tailoring of content to individual users, again providing opportunities to create new revenue, McAdam said.

"The combination of EdgeCast and Verizon Digital Media Services will allow us to fully exploit and accelerate growth in Internet media consumption and online business performance," said Bob Toohey, president of Verizon Digital Media Services.

McAdam was also asked about the outlook for the Verizon streaming video joint venture with DVD rental kiosk operator Redbox, which the company has acknowledged has gotten off to a slow start. But the Verizon CEO predicted it would ramp up over time, without providing detailed projections.

Twitter: @georgszalai