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Verizon to Acquire Stake in AwesomenessTV for Mobile Video

U.S. telecom behemoth Verizon Communications Inc. VZ has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a 24.5% stake in AwesomenessTV for approximately $160 million. Once the transaction is completed, DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. DWA will have 51% stake in AwesomenessTV while private media group Hearst Corp. and Verizon will hold 24.5% each. AwesomenessTV is a multiplatform media company that develops high quality content targeted at the millennial population.

In Oct 2015, Verizon launched its ad-supported mobile video service 'go90' targeting the younger generation. In Mar 2015, the company had announced that its Internet TV platform will include channels like AwesomenessTV and DreamWorksTV, and will feature more than 200 hours of original programming. Verizon is now trying to launch the paid-service of its go90 mobile video offering.

The new deal with AwesomenessTV will enable the service to operate as an independent brand with exclusive content. The go90 paid service is expected to be unveiled at the end of the year or in the first quarter of 2017. Verizon will have exclusive rights to the content in the U.S. while AwesomenessTV will hold rights for markets outside the U.S.

To derive maximum benefits from its mobile video platform, in Jun 2015, the company took over AOL Inc. that provides advertising technology enabling automated buying and selling of ads online. In Oct 2015, Verizon also acquired Millennial Media, a leading company that sells mobile ads across numerous websites and applications. Its advertising platform is designed to monetize applications for publishers and developers through the use of data-driven ad targeting. A deal with AwesomenessTV will boost the company’s mobile advertisement revenues significantly.

Verizon is currently focusing on online content delivery, mobile video and online advertising for future growth. These businesses have the potential to generate significant revenues for the company, especially given that its legacy telecom business is currently facing serious pricing competition.

Internet TV is gradually gaining market traction in the U.S. Of late, the legacy pay-TV industry in the country has been facing severe competition from online video streaming service providers. The low-cost over-the-top video streaming service has resulted in massive cord cutting that is currently threatening the pay-TV business model. Internet TV has emerged as a strong alternative to counter this competitive threat.

Aside of Verizon, DISH Network Corp. DISH and Comcast Corp. CMCSA have already launched their Internet TV services. AT&T Inc. T entered into a partnership with Chernin Group to offer similar services. Verizon currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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