Verizon Shutting Down Video Streaming App Go90

Verizon Go90 Product - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Verizon

The telecom giant spent millions on content for the ad-supported app, but it failed to take off with consumers.

Verizon is shutting down its go90 video app less than three years after its launch. 

The telecom giant will end support of the free, ad-supported app on July 30. "Following the creation of Oath, go90 will be discontinued," a Verizon spokesperson confirmed Thursday in a statement. "Verizon will focus on building its digital-first brands at scale in sports, finance, news and entertainment for today’s mobile consumers and tomorrow's 5G applications."

Verizon launched go90 in the fall of 2015 with a star-studded party featuring a performance by Kanye West. It backed up the talk by investing millions to license live-sports rights and content from dozens of shortform video producers, including AwesomenessTV (which is minority owned by Verizon), NewForm Digital and Funny or Die. 

But the app was slow to take off with the young audiences it was designed to reach, especially as deep-pocketed players like Netflix and YouTube began to invest more heavily into premium YA programming. Only a handful of shows broke out, including T@gged from AwesomenessTV and competition series The Runner from executive producers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

Partners also became frustrated by the lack of promotional push behind their shows, and talent complained that the app-only experience didn't give them a way to share their work with their large fan bases. 

Verizon retooled go90 several times, laying off some of its team in early 2017 and relaunching the app with technology from the team behind Jason Kilar's Vessel and even launching a web-based version of the product that lowered the barrier for new viewers to find and watch shows. On the content front, go90 began to focus on programming buckets that included dramas focused on young female audiences, genre fare and sports. Verizon even began licensing library content like Veronica Mars and Fringe.

Following the completion of Verizon's drawn-out acquisition of Yahoo, which merged with AOL to form Oath, go90 began to face an uncertain future — even as it benefited from the new distribution channels and saw its audience grow to more than 17 million average viewers per month.

Earlier this year, Oath CEO Tim Armstrong hinted at changes when he told the crowd at the Code Media conference that the go90 "brand will remain, I don't know how long for." Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that in recent weeks Go90 programming executives had largely stopped meeting with potential partners while they waited for direction about the future of the business. Verizon is now discussing with content partners what will happen to their shows once the app shuts down. As recently as earlier this week, go90 had planned to launch satire series Like and Subscribe in mid-July.

Despite the uncertainty, go90 won an Oscar in February with Kobe Bryant's animated short Dear Basketball, which it acquired for distribution and released late last year

Through Oath, Verizon remains in the content business. The division is investing in live-sports mobile rights, reupping its deal with the NFL to stream games across its platforms including Yahoo! Sports.