Verizon is shutting down its original video app Go90 on July 31st, according to a report from Variety. The app derived its name from the process of turning a smartphone from the vertical orientation to a horizontal one, presumably to watch longer-form video content like television shows and live sports that Verizon hoped would make its platform appealing to younger audiences.
Go90 offered a mix of original short-form videos in the vein of web series, sports, and licensed programming from official networks, all for free. The goal was to subsidize the app with pricey advertising, with the hope that marketers would be eager to reach that lucrative Snapchat-loving demographic.
That vision never quite panned out for Verizon. Go90, which launched back in 2015, suffered from a silly name and anemic viewership rates across the board, and none of its original video programming ever really caught on. (Although one Go90-financed film, Kobe Bryant’s animated short Dear Basketball, did win an Oscar.) In 2016, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam admitted that the Go90 platform “did get a little bit overhyped.” Digiday reports Verizon spent more than $1.2 billion on the project.
According to Variety, the Go90 team and its operations have been folded into Oath, the new multimedia unit borne from the combination of AOL and Yahoo that Verizon obtained when it acquired Yahoo’s core web assets. “Following the creation of Oath, Go90 will be discontinued,” a Verizon spokesperson told Variety said 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.”
As for what’s going to happen to all that fresh, piping hot content Verizon commissioned for the Go90 platform, Digiday is reporting that Go90 will return the shows and content rights to the original production owners, including partners like Vice Media, Complex Networks, and AwesomenessTV. (For full disclosure, The Verge’s parent company Vox Media was a Go90 partner, helping produce a program for our sports website SBNation.) Verizon plans to continue distributing original video across its Oath properties, with a focus on sports rights with the NFL and NBA.