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Hearst and Verizon partner to target millennials

The two companies have teamed up to produce content for a mobile-first generation made up of increasingly powerful digital video consumers.
March 4, 2016

Between the purchase of AOL last year and its aggressive investment in the mobile video service Go90, one thing is undeniable: Verizon is banking on video.

Now, the U.S. telco has partnered with media company Hearst to develop digital video programming specifically targeting a mobile, millennial audience. The joint venture (known as Verizon Hearts Media Partners) will see the creation this spring of two new video channels, and Seriously.TV.

The channels will create original content to be distributed across Verizon’s various video platforms, including Go90 and those within the AOL brand such as the Huffington Post and AOL On. The content will also be distributed to third-party networks and licencors.

RatedRed will produce both scripted and non-scripted series on topics such as music, food, outdoor life, politics and faith. Seriously.TV, meanwhile, will offer short-form comedic news updates meant to be consumed periodically throughout the day. Both channels are expected to launch in time for the NewFronts in April, according to Verizon.

Andre Swanston, CEO of True Optik, an analytics company specializing in streaming data, told StreamDaily that Verizon’s digital strategy makes sense, but said it appears to be an effort to “play catch-up” to other major players in the streaming space.

He said the big risk-takers such as Netflix saw the millennial generation’s cord-cutting, mobile-obsessed ways coming long ago and made the necessary moves early on to now position them as leaders.

“When Netflix first launched its delivery business, people laughed at them. Now look at them,” he said.

At the same time, Verizon can’t afford to not chase millennials, added Swanston.

“They’re the most educated generation,” he said. “And as millennials get into their real revenue-producing years — they’re starting to get into their 30s now — there’s more purchasing power that’s exponentially growing.”

As members of the generation have children, that will only increase their consumer power.

But successfully targeting this generation can also be tricky, and, speaking broadly, Swanston said it’s important to not pigeonhole the

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“Saying ‘millennials’ is kind of like saying ‘Americans,'” he said. “Millennials are a sophisticated, diverse audience. It’s a big mistake when people just think, ‘Oh, millennials like sports and they like mobile, so let’s do sports on mobile.’ The biggest mistake people could fall into is just thinking that because they put something on mobile it’ll resonate with millennials. You still have to understand the actual content and how it will resonate.”

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