Verizon Could Push Its VOD Service Over-the-Top

Verizon (s VZ) could soon make its Flex View video-on-demand service available to anyone, not just those who pay for its FiOS TV service, the company said today. In a press briefing GigaOM’s Stacey Higginbotham attended, Shadman Zafar, SVP of product development for Verizon Communications, showed off some new features of the Flex View VOD offering that could make it available to FiOS customers and non-customers alike.

The new service would have all the same features as its existing Flex View VOD offering, including access on PCs and some mobile devices. But Verizon is looking to extend that even further, to connected devices like Roku broadband set-top boxes. Zafar showed off a channel today that could allow Verizon FiOS customers — and even non-customers — to access the company’s VOD service on Roku devices. (see image below)

Last year, Verizon announced the Flex View VOD service would let customers purchase a title through their TV program guide and watch it online and on mobile handsets. To that end, it has connected the VOD service with its online video portal and has introduced mobile apps for some Android (s goog) devices.

But unlike the existing Flex View VOD service, you wouldn’t have to be a Verizon customer to stream or download a movie. Instead, Verizon is opening it to potential users who might not live in its service footprint. That would put it head to head with services like iTunes (s aapl), Amazon Video On Demand (s AMZN) and Vudu. (s WMT) While Verizon is strongly considering such a move, Zafar said it’s still early, and timing for such a rollout and pricing have yet to be determined.

The availability of a Verizon VOD channel on Roku or other over-the-top streaming devices shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Roku CEO Anthony Wood said last month that the company is working to make traditional pay TV services available on the device. And Verizon has been looking to expand the number of devices and platforms that viewers can access the VOD service.

Furthermore, Verizon is just one of many service providers looking to make their content available on connected devices. In January, Time Warner Cable (s TWC) and Comcast (s CMCSA) announced they would be working with manufacturers like Samsung and Sony (s SNE) to introduce apps on their connected TVs. Meanwhile, Dish Network (s DISH) has been pushing “Sling-loaded” technology into its set-top boxes to enable viewers to stream their linear channels onto multiple devices. And that’s not even mentioning initiatives by Cablevision, (s CVC) Time Warner Cable, and even Comcast and Verizon to add linear video streams to their iPad apps.

For the cable operators, connecting to devices is one way to provide more value and make their services stickier. With worries that consumers are beginning to cut the cord and switch to online video services instead, creating multi-platform apps is one way to keep subscribers engaged across a number of devices. This move isn’t necessarily meant to provide more value to existing subscribers, but will extend it potential reach outside of the areas where FiOS is already available.