Verizon Not Looking to Acquire AOL, CEO Says

Verizon Guy Paul Marcarelli 2011
Verizon Wireless

Lowell McAdam tells an investor conference that the telecom giant is looking for content partners, but "I don't see us as a content company"

Telecom giant Verizon is not so much looking to acquire AOL or other media and content companies as to partner with them, chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam told an investor conference on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Citi 2015 Global Internet, Media & Telecommunications Conference in Las Vegas, he said: "I don't see us as a content company." But he said he does see Verizon as "the platform company" that makes content and other things work for consumers.

He also addressed a Bloomberg News report from Monday that said Verizon had held talks with AOL regarding a potential takeover or joint venture. The report said Verizon was looking to use AOL's programmatic advertising technology, which allows for the automated buying and selling of advertising online, in conjunction with a planned online video service.

"There is another rumor in the press today. If I had a dollar for every company that we were supposed to buy, I would be in pretty good shape financially," McAdam said. "I think we will be much more a partner with media companies and content companies." On AOL directly, he added: "AOL, along with lots of other media companies, is a potential [company] for us to partner with."

He said it was not accurate to say that the company has had "significant acquisition discussions." He also said, "I think you will see us get into the applications space, but not all the way to content."

Last month, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo discussed the telecom giant's planned mobile online video service. He said it would be "what we consider over-the-top mobile-first. Don't think of it as linear TV programming. It is very different content."

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He pointed to the company's sports offers on mobile phones as good examples for what to expect. Discussing the kind of content deal that Verizon was looking at, he said it was "something you can take over mobile but has nothing to do with a linear TV or satellite subscription. This is a very different way to think about content."

McAdam previously said the over-the-top service could include broadcast networks, customized channels and other targeted content, but that "no one wants to have 300 channels on your wireless device."

At the Citi conference on Tuesday, McAdam said, "We are very happy with the way content is moving," reiterating that his company would likely have a 20- to 30-channel offering rather than a 300 channel offering for its online video service. "Our strategy will be a mobile-first offering," he also reiterated. He also signaled that the company's service could be rolled out in the second half of 2015 after previously speaking of a start "around" midyear.

Twitter: @georgszalai