The news that Verizon is shutting down its Go90 streaming app less than three years after its launch underscores how just being a wireless service with tons of customers doesn’t guarantee they’ll want to watch your content. This news will be highly relevant to AT&T, which just acquired Time Warner in a $85 billion deal with an eye toward leveraging Time Warner’s vast portfolio of content–everything from Game of Thrones to Wonder Woman–and serving it up to its 150 million-plus wireless users as mobile entertainment.
The big draw of Go90 was that it didn’t eat into your data plan–and it was free, whether or not you were a Verizon user. But in a world where there are services like Netflix and Hulu with award-winning TV shows and movies, all of which are relatively cheap to subscribe to, who needs a Go90, whose content has been described as “meh”? Yes, there was the Oscar-nominated animated short, Kobe Bryant’s Dear Basketball. (Who knew?) But most of Go90’s offerings were niche even for a niche service: Gym Class Science, a sports comedy series; Hot Guys Build Stuff, a how-to series; and Life of a Fitness Pop Star, about Fitness Marshall, “the king of cardio dance.”
As AT&T thinks about its content strategy, and as even Verizon possibly leans into a big content acquisition (CBS?), it needs to remember that while content may be king, that content still has to be good.