Verizon, A+E Networks Reach Digital Distribution Deal

Verizon struck a deal to offer content from A+E Networks across its Oath brands, the company’s latest move to bolster the recently acquired digital destinations. The agreement also includes a renewal of carriage for A+E Networks on Fios for an unspecified term.

Under the new deal, Verizon picked up first-window exclusivity rights to short- and medium-form content from A+E Network’s fledgling digital arm, 45th & Dean. The Oath sites will also be able to carry select long-form content from A+E’s linear channels, as well as short-form content supporting A+E programming, on a non-exclusive basis. A+E Networks pres of distribution David Zagin said the deal doesn’t include any content that previously required pay-TV authentication.

Verizon vp, programming & content strategy Erin McPherson said, “What we’ll be doing with A+E through 45th & Dean is developing originals that really serve an audience where they are—news, sports, on HuffPo, on or the Yahoo! app. We’ll be developing content targeted at those key audiences, particularly younger audiences, millennial audiences that are viewing content online and on mobile phones.”

A+E Networks formed 45th & Dean in 2016. The studio’s output since then has included short-form content, such as “Bae or Bail” on Facebook Watch and “Second Chance” on Snapchat. A+E was among the first content partners for Watch when it launched last August. Zagin said distributing content on Oath similarly will allow A+E Networks to reach a younger audience.

Verizon also upped its sports lineup in the deal, gaining the right to expand its distribution of National Women’s Soccer League games beyond the go90 platform. A+E Networks has an equity stake in the league and aired a Game of the Week on Lifetime last season. “We found in our existing go90 partnership that this content is very, very sticky to consumers,” McPherson said. “It’s very appealing, and of course live sports is unique in its ability to aggregate audience around content and create excitement.”

The NWSL games compliment Verizon’s existing streaming deal with Univision for Liga MX games.

Similar to Verizon’s recent $2.5bln streaming deal with the NFL, the A+E Networks content on Oath will be available to anyone, not just Verizon customers. That’s a change from the carrier’s previous NFL agreement, which opened up mobile streams only to Verizon subs. McPherson insisted Verizon will continue to offer other exclusive content to its wireless customers. Verizon’s Oath brands, a combination of assets from its recent acquisitions of AOL and Yahoo!, include Yahoo’s various verticals (Sports, Finance, News, etc.), the Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Tumblr and Engadget.

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