Verizon CEO Talks AT&T-Time Warner, Content Strategy

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam - Getty H 2016
Courtesy of Getty Images

At the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York, Lowell McAdam was also asked about the regulatory outlook under a Trump administration.

Verizon chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam told an investor conference Tuesday that AT&T's $85.4 billion deal for Time Warner doesn't affect Verizon and its strategy.

"No. I respect the strategy," he said when quizzed on the topic. "It makes perfect sense for them" given the telecom rival's assets. Speaking at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York, he said that, in contrast, Verizon was focused on serving millennials with content that is more mobile and "snackable" and otherwise different from traditional programming. 

"We want to skate to where the puck is going," he said. "We are more bullish on digital media, because the millennials don't want a 300-channel bundle."

Fellow telecom giant AT&T has agreed to acquire Time Warner for $85.4 billion and recently launched streaming service DirecTV Now to reach consumers who aren't currently pay TV subscribers. DirecTV Now, which starts at $35 per month, has struck content deals with all major entertainment companies except for CBS Corp. Verizon instead has focused on deals that have built out its digital offers for millennials, focusing on a very different opportunity.

Verizon earlier this year announced the $4.83 billion acquisition of Yahoo's core internet business, but it has since looked at the fallout from a Yahoo email hack and whether that should lower the price tag it pays. McAdam didn't provide any updated forecast for that process on Tuesday beyond signaling he was optimistic that the deal would be completed. He had previously told analysts that there would be “meaningful” financial synergies in the Yahoo deal, but the company so far hasn't detailed any figures.

The company previously also bought AOL and Millennial Media and last year launched millennials-focused mobile video service Go90. McAdam told the UBS conference that the combination of offering AOL, Go90, skinny bundles and Verizon's FiOS pay TV service allows the company to better monetize content across platforms.

Asked whether Verizon has all the assets it needs, McAdam said, "We'll keep our options open." But he said the company feels good about its position in sports, finance, news and entertainment, which, followed by lifestyle, are its key content pillars.

McAdam also told the UBS conference that Verizon would in 2017 launch a service offer combining fast 5G wireless broadband service with a skinny streaming TV bundle in smaller towns as a test. 

He was also asked about the regulatory outlook under the Trump administration. Highlighting that Verizon didn’t get into Twitter wars with either candidate, he said it was too early to tell.

Corporate tax reform could be good news, but things would depend on details, he said, adding: "You really have to wait and see." McAdam also said that Verizon would "continue to play our game" while the outlook becomes clearer.