Verizon is going to launch a "mobile-first" TV service later this year, and today it announced that it's going to include plenty of college sports offerings. Among the five partners listed in the press release, we have these two:
- CBS Sports, featuring dozens of live major college games.
- ESPN, the leader in sports, for select live college football and college basketball games, and select award-winning documentaries from ESPN Films’ "30 for 30" series.
So what exactly does this mean? What is, in Verizon's terms, "a mobile-first solution that redefines over-the-top video for wireless customers"? And how will this work? I called up Verizon PR to get more information, and here is what they told me.
The service is coming later this year, but they're not ready yet to announce when. It's going to come in the form of an app for phones and tablets. Content will come in the form of video that you can watch from the app. It's an "over the top" service, meaning you won't have to have a cable or satellite subscription to get access to it.
Some live SEC sports will be available from ESPN. I assume that goes for CBS too, since you can already stream CBS games for free online from CBS's website, but I forgot to ask while on the phone. I wasn't able to get any details on which live games will be available, but it doesn't sound like any and all of them will be. The release says "select" live games will be available, and the PR rep told me that only "some" of the SEC's games will be on there.
What this service will not be is something akin to the traditional television experience. We've highlighted the DISH Sling TV service before, which includes the SEC Network on an extra sports tier. With Sling TV, you simply watch TV channels via the Internet rather than via a cable or satellite feed.
This service from Verizon won't provide 24-hour access to the networks involved. The app won't have discrete feeds for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, the SEC Network, and so forth. It'll have video provided from ESPN, and some of that video will involve SEC teams.
We've been watching the evolving media landscape around here for a while, and we'll continue to watch it. The college sports world is an interesting test case, with different conferences adopting very different strategies. The Pac-12 wholly owns its networks, the Big Ten co-owns its channel with Fox Sports, and the SEC's network is entirely owned by ESPN. As we go forward, we'll see which of those strategies turns out the best.