Lowell C. McAdam, chairman and chief executive officer of Verizon Communications , during the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg/Getty Images

TV is dead, digital is the future

By Erin Griffith
December 8, 2015

AT&T’s acquisition of DirecTV earlier this year created speculation that competitor Verizon VZ might mimic the move by buying rival Dish DISH .

Verizon’s CEO Lowell McAdam has thrown cold water on those rumors in the past, but today at Business Insider’s Ignition conference, he explained why Verizon won’t pursue a bid for Dish.

Verizon’s strategy is to “disrupt ourselves,” McAdam said, launching into a string of buzzwords like digital, millennial, mobile, and “snackable content.” He sees linear TV, which Dish offers via satellite, as the past. “That’s not our strategy,” he said. “We’re trying to skate to where the puck is going.”

As a Nielsen report from this week made clear, the puck is going toward “over-the-top” content delivered via the Web and mobile phones. So Verizon’s strategy is own the connectivity through its wireless business, and offer content through its media business.

Verizon is “creating a media company to deal with the digital millennials that are out there,” McAdam said. That includes Verizon’s Go90 app, which launched in October and has not cracked the top 100 apps in Apple’s App Store, according to analytics company App Annie. Verizon even hired 1,000 people in Silicon Valley to work with startups, though McAdam didn’t elaborate as to how they do that.

Given that strategy, it’s easy to see why Verizon might want to acquire a digital media property like Yahoo YHOO . A Yahoo sale has been speculated since November, when activist investor Starboard Value urged the struggling media company to sell itself. Last week Yahoo’s board met to discuss strategy, including the possibility of a sale.

McAdams noted that any deal discussion is premature, since Yahoo hasn’t decided whether to sell. But if that happened, he said, Verizon would take a look, “just like anything in the digital media area because it’s so hot.”

Yahoo’s declining, and apparently dysfunctional, assets could hardly be described as “hot,” but they do have a robust audience. Verizon earlier this year acquired another once-hot digital media asset in Aol. That asset, McAdam’s said, “fit in perfectly with that strategy.”

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