Signage sits on the exterior of a Verizon Communications Inc. store in downtown Chicago, (Photographer: Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg)

Verizon Is Seeking Google or Apple as 5G TV Provider

(Bloomberg) -- Verizon Communications Inc. is seeking to partner with Google or Apple to provide television when it launches the first superfast 5G service to homes in Los Angeles and Sacramento later this year, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Negotiations are ongoing and could still fall apart, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. Verizon is expected to update to its 5G rollout plans when it reports second-quarter results Tuesday. The phone giant came up short developing its own live online TV service, and a partner could help Verizon deliver on its promise of a robust 5G offering in four cities before the end of the year.

Using new fifth-generation wireless technology, Verizon plans to beam online services to home receivers, delivering speeds that match or exceed landline connections. The company will eventually use 5G to sell consumers internet and online TV packages to compete nationally against cable and landline services from AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp.

YouTube and Apple declined to comment.

The new, faster mobile technology has inspired dreams of a hyperconnected future piloting autonomous cars and delivering an economic jolt from as much as $200 billion a year in development spending. But there are many challenges to successful deployment of the millimeter-band airwaves, including interference from foliage and rain.

Tech Showcase

The debut of 5G online TV with either Google’s YouTube TV or Apple TV will be used to showcase the technology and mark Verizon’s first competitive live TV venture outside its predominantly East Coast service area. But the live-TV partnership might not be permanent. Verizon is opting for outside help until it gets “comfortable” with its own internet-based video service, Chief Financial Officer Matt Ellis said in May at an investor conference.

Verizon scaled back its own TV ambitions, ceding the market to providers like Netflix or Sling TV. Last month, the company killed go90 after it failed to catch on with its target audience of teens. Earlier this year, it shelved a live online TV effort as the market grew crowded with offerings like Dish Network Corp.’s Sling and AT&T’s DirecTV Now.

Details of the new service, such as timing and price, are still under discussion, according to the person. Google’s YouTube TV offers more than 60 channels of live TV for $40 a month. Apple doesn’t offer a live TV streaming service, but has been developing alternatives such on-demand shows and access to third-party content via its own app.

Need for TV

Without online TV, Verizon risks falling behind its closest peer. AT&T has also focused on 5G development, while pushing into media with its $85 billion purchase of Time Warner Inc. As owner of DirecTV, it’s also owns the largest U.S. pay-TV provider.

Verizon has created Oath as its mobile media and advertising business. Through that division, the company offers online video, including broadcasts of games through Yahoo Sports. Verizon also has agreements with the NFL and NBA to stream live games.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.