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Verizon and Hearst are joining forces in their effort to attract younger audiences.
The companies are launching a joint venture aimed at developing digital video programming for mobile consumption. Verizon Hearst Media Partners will start with a channel aimed at young Americans living in the Midwest and the South and another property focused on comedy news.
Online video has seen a huge boom over the last year as more people turn to their mobile phones to consume such content and advertisers have flocked to the medium. Both Facebook, which has made video an increasingly important part of its news feed experience, and Snapchat, which has placed an emphasis on video via its Stories and Discover features, now claim 8 billion video views a day. The surge in growth on both platforms highlights how important video has become for publishers.
The joint venture comes as both the telecom giant and publishing company have made strides to increase their online video businesses. Verizon last year launched go90, a mobile app filled with exclusive short-form video, live programming and traditional TV shows. Hearst, meanwhile, owns a 25 percent stake in youth-skewing digital media firm AwesomenessTV and has made investments into male-centric Complex and BuzzFeed through its venture arm. Hearst-owned Cosmopolitan also currently operates a channel on Snapchat Discover.
This marks the first time that Verizon will produce content explicitly for go90. Up until now, the company has been signing large checks to digital producers for exclusive and original content for the platform. The programming that comes from Verizon Hearst Media Partners will also be distributed across online platforms such as Verizon-owned AOL and other third-party networks.
Brian Angiolet, senior vp consumer product and marketing at Verizon, called the venture “the next step in the development of our media strategy.” He adds: “In Hearst, not only have we found a partner with deep domain expertise, but also one who shares our point of view on the opportunities created by shifting paradigms and what it will take to win while creating the networks of the future.”
The first two channels from the joint venture are expected to launch by May of this year. RatedRed.com is described as a channel for “millennials from the heartland” and will offer content — everything from news to scripted series — that addresses topics such as food, outdoor life, military affairs, politics and faith through their lens. Seriously.TV will feature comedic news updates designed to capture young audiences not currently being served by late-night programming.
“It’s the dawn of a new era of video brands for the next generation of viewers, and in Verizon, we have found a partner with unparalleled ad, video and mobile technology that will accelerate the launch of new digital video channels for this mobile-first audience,” says Hearst Entertainment co-president Neeraj Khemlani.
The joint venture will be based out of New York. The companies declined to disclose how much funding the initiative has received, but a spokeswoman confirmed that the project is a true joint venture with 50-50 investments from both Verizon and Hearst.