Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) has signed content-programming deals with Starz Entertainment Group LLC as well as content providers representing roughly 100 television channels, as the phone company steps up its push into the world of entertainment, Friday's Wall Street Journal reported.
Under the agreement with Liberty Media Corp.'s (L) Starz, announced Thursday, Verizon can carry Starz' 13 movie channels on the phone company's new fiber- technology network. Verizon is expected to launch its television operations in various markets around the U.S. this year. People familiar with the situation said the deals for the 100 channels, expected to be announced in the next few months, include niche programming as well as several highly popular channels.
Verizon is still negotiating with programmers representing an additional 50 channels, these people say.
Verizon and several other large phone companies, including SBC Communications Inc. (SBC), San Antonio, last year began rolling out new technologies that will allow them to offer television and super-high-speed Internet-access services. Phone companies are entering the new arena because their core local phone operations are suffering from increased competition from cable operators and the impact of new Internet technology.
Verizon has been rolling out a fiber-optics network to consumers' homes and expects to make its new network available for subscription to some three million homes by the end of this year. SBC, which is rolling out fiber-optic lines to neighborhoods rather than to homes, is more aggressive and expects to reach 18 million homes in the next three years.
Wall Street Journal Staff Reporters Joe Flint and Almar Latour contributed to this report. Dow Jones Newswires 04-15-05 0113ET Copyright (C) 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.