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Verizon takes steps toward launching TV Everywhere service

Mark Milian
Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg discusses the concept of a "TV Everywhere" service, but makes no announcements.
Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg discusses the concept of a "TV Everywhere" service, but makes no announcements.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Verizon is in talks to launch a service called "TV Everywhere"
  • The service would provide consistent television access to most devices
  • Verizon alluded to the service at its CES keynote, but made no announcements
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Las Vegas (CNN) -- For all the anticipation orbiting around Verizon's keynote, the hourlong presentation turned out to be nothing more than stargazing.

Top Verizon executives took the stage Thursday morning in an event that kicked off the Consumer Electronics Show. They discussed the potential of a service that would allow people to access television channels on smartphones, tablets and computers, but announced no such product.

Verizon remains in talks with major media companies about a service that brings their content to more types of devices, Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead told CNN in an interview here this week. The service would bridge the gap between what can be viewed on a big screen and on a mobile touchscreen.

"We're negotiating," Mead said. "We think that the time is very near, and we think that we're in a unique position. I'm confident we are."

The thinking behind this service is to enable consumers to get "the content that they want anytime, anywhere, on any device that they choose," Mead said.

A big piece of the puzzle, he said, was the December rollout of Verizon's faster fourth-generation, or 4G, wireless data network. Devices supporting the TV service would include Verizon phones, tablets and computers.

"Over-the-top television transmission" would also be included, Mead said. The term refers to watching TV channels in the living room using a bundled, fiber-optic home communications service like Verizon's FiOS, rather than over a more expensive and controlled cable or satellite line.

"There are eight or nine big content providers that represent around 90% of the content that's created and delivered through the cable companies and through us," Mead said. "We're a big acquirer of content to deliver on our FiOS television network."

Using relationships with media companies -- built through Verizon's FiOS TV group and for the mobile-video service V Cast -- Verizon is looking to transition that content to other places, Mead said.

But negotiating with major media companies -- broadcast networks, movie studios or music labels -- can often be onerous. Just look at Spotify's difficulties in launching a music-streaming product in the United States or the disdain for Netflix expressed by some movie-studio executives.

In the TV industry, Google is seeing that resistance firsthand. TV studios quickly moved to block a feature of Google TV that allowed users to watch shows free with brief ads through the companies' websites on the big screen. Apple, too, is having trouble signing TV companies to its iTunes 99-cent rental service.

Even Verizon's V Cast Mobile TV service is only available in a handful of cities and offers content from only nine channels.

"There will be some disruption in the traditional business models, but there's a tremendous value proposition in the anytime-anywhere delivery across multiple screens," Mead said. "Content is going to be the next big growth area. But to truly capture the value of that, you've got to be able to use our [4G] LTE network for the content delivery."

A day before Verizon's CES keynote, buzz began to grow about the big names who might be in attendance.

Adding fuel to the speculation was Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro, who, in an introduction to Verizon's presentation, said: "I believe history will be made today by our keynote speaker."

Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes joined Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg onstage to talk about the potential of "TV Everywhere" services.

"We're changing the game again across all of our networks -- wireless, broadband, the internet backbone and the cloud," Seidenberg said at the event. "Consumers are actually watching more TV than ever before. What's changing the game is how they're watching."

But the two did not announce any specifics. Verizon may have anticipated unveiling a product at CES but failed to sign all the necessary eleventh-hour agreements.

Verizon entered into a partnership to trial "TV Everywhere" for Time Warner's Turner networks, TNT and TBS in August 2009. Time Warner also owns CNN. When asked for his technology predictions onstage on Thursday, Bewkes said "TV Everywhere" would be important.

Bewkes' attendance may prove to be key to making that happen, Mead said.

"I think that he (Bewkes) can help move the whole cable industry to it," Mead said. "In partnership with us and our LTE network, I think there's a lot that's going to happen."

Verizon Wireless is holding an event January 11 in New York, where Time Warner and many TV companies are based.

However, some speculate this is for the launch of an iPhone that is compatible with Verizon's network. When asked, Mead said just about everyone he ran into at CES asked him about the iPhone rumors.

If that iPhone rumor proves true, Verizon can add one more device to the list of platforms its TV service would have to support.

[TECH: NEWSPULSE]

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