Shammo: No Link Between ‘Custom TV,' OTT Offering

Verizon CFO: ‘These Are Two Very Distinct Ecosystems’
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If you’re trying to find a linkage between FiOS TV’s new, controversial “Custom TV” offering and Verizon Communications' coming wireless OTT video service, keep looking. You won’t find one, Fran Shammo, Verizon’s CFO, insisted on the company’s first quarter earnings call on Tuesday.

“I would not read into the Custom TV package as a precursor to the over-the-top video [offering]; it’s not,” Shammo (pictured) said. “These are two very distinct ecosystems.”

Verizon has not revealed pricing or a brand name for its coming mobile-first OTT video service, which is slated for a summer launch, but the company has announced a handful of content deals for it – with AwesomenessTV, ACC Digital Network, Campus Insiders, CBS Sports, ESPN and 120 Sports. 

“This is all around having the consumer consume more content on their wireless handset through the Verizon wireless network,” Shammo said, stressing observers not to “confuse [the mobile OTT product] with linear TV content.”  

As for the business model, he said Verizon is looking at a variety of options, including ad-based content, premium subscriptions, content that is delivered as “sponsored data”  that could not count against a customer’s data usage bucket, as well as pay-per-view events that could ride on LTE multicast, a bandwidth-friendly technique for mobile video that Verizon is pursuing bullishly.

Shammo also defended FiOS’s new slimmed-down Custom TV offering, which offers a base package of pre-selected and local broadcast channels and the option to pick two channel packs from a batch of seven channel packs. ESPN and other programmers have pushed back, claiming that the approach violates their existing carriage agreements.

“We believe that we are allowed to offer these packages under our existing contracts,” Shammo said, noting earlier that  most consumers, on average, watch only 17 channels.

Custom TV “is a way to give consumers what they want on a choice basis,” he said.