Verizon is taking “TV Everywhere” to more places, or at least taking it places under more conditions. Its new FiOS Flex View is a kind of Netflix-like approach to content, except that instead of streaming it, you download it subject to digital rights management (DRM), with 30 days to watch the material. The fact that the video is downloaded means that users can view it even when there’s no Internet access available or when connection quality is very poor. For most users, the Verizon Media Manager is the portal to organizing Flex View content on mobile devices.
Obviously this is another of the growing number of ways in which operators are looking to monetize content. Like TV Everywhere, which is essentially a notion of “subscription equals rights,” Flex View basically says that having content rights means the right to view it wherever it can be delivered. That approach empowers firms that can both offer content on a syndicated or subscription basis and deliver it and maintain DRM credibility.
One interesting thing about the Flex View model is that it seems to disconnect the user from the network, at least as a requirement for viewing content. That’s consistent with other Verizon moves, one of which being the iPad with WiFi and a 3G hub partner device. Flex View could make Verizon’s content strategy consume less 3G bandwidth (and 4G bandwidth eventually) and promote a usage model for migratory devices where permanent connectivity isn’t critical.
This doesn’t mean that Verizon is de-emphasizing the mobile network, but instead that it’s trying to uncouple content leadership from dependence on that network, and also reduce the risk that content success could come only by destructive price decreases for mobile capacity.