Erik Huggers – formerly the BBC’s director of future media and technology – is leaving Verizon a matter of five months after the US telco’s acquisition of the Intel ‘OnCue’ streaming platform he headed.
His departure signals a change in strategy for the telco, which is understood to be less keen than previously to offer an OTT streaming service. Huggers had worked on the OnCue project for Intel for more than two years before Verizon acquired the operation in January 2014.
A Verizon spokesman said: “We obtained a strong combination of technological and personnel assets from Intel Media. We intend to strategically utilise the OnCue technology and talent going forward to grow our business. That has not changed.”
At the time of the acquisition, Verizon suggested the deal was designed to accelerate the availability of next-generation video services, both integrated with Verizon FiOS fibre-optic networks and delivered ‘over the top’ to any device.
Lowell McAdam, chairman and CEO of Verizon, said the OnCue platform and team would help Verizon bring next-generation video services to audiences who increasingly expect to view content when, where and how they want it. “Verizon already has extensive video content relationships, fixed and wireless delivery networks, and customer relationships in both the home and on mobile. This transaction provides us with the capabilities to build a powerful, capitally efficient engine for future growth and innovation. We will have the opportunity to enhance, expand, accelerate and integrate our delivery of video products and services to better serve audiences on a wide array of devices,” he said.
Reports surfaced late October 2013 that Intel had decided to give up on the OnCue platform, frustrated with the lack of co-operation from content providers, which, in turn undermined confidence in the venture from new CEO Brian M. Krzanich.
Huggers told Reuters that he had worked well with his immediate superior at Verizon, Marni Walden, executive vice president and president – product and new business innovation, as well as Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam. “There were no conflicts at all. The technology is great, the team is great, the future is secure, the dream lives on. It’s time to hand the baby over to someone else,” he said.
Any future Verizon launch of a streaming service will join a crowded market, with AT&T, which is seeking to buy DirecTV suggesting it would take 12 to 18 months for the combined companies to offer an over-the-top service.
Satellite operator Dish Network is hoping to launch its personalised streaming product by the end of 2014.