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There are almost too many streaming services on the market at the moment, making it difficult to know where to start and what’s worth your time and money. Verizon’s go90 streaming service offers its customers a way to view videos via their cellular connection without eating up all their data. But are there any videos you’d want to see on the app? And is go90 worth it? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is go90?
Launched in October 2015, go90 is Verizon’s free, ad-supported streaming service. Verizon has invested heavily in the service over the years, particularly at launch, and continues to support go90 with new original content and partnerships with sports companies to draw in new viewers.
While anyone can download go90, it’s really only going to appeal to Verizon customers. There are simply too many other better competitors in the streaming space—including but not limited to Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, Hulu, and YouTube TV—and unless you’re on a Wi-Fi connection, it’s not worth using up your data for.
However, if you’re a Verizon customer, go90 is suddenly a much more exciting prospect. Verizon subscribers can watch all of go90’s content for free over an LTE connection without cutting into their data plan. That includes everything from back episodes of classic shows and movies to live sports programming. It’s a deal that’s too good to pass on, but it should raise major questions for supporters of net neutrality.
Why watch Netflix or Hulu on your phone when go90 doesn’t eat up your data? (Well, because Netflix has a better selection, but also because perhaps you have issues with empowering content providers and the companies who own them to pick the winners and losers in the streaming race.) Is go90 better than Netflix? No. But will people use it because they want to watch something on the go without eating their data? Of course.
How does go90 work?
You can download go90 for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, regardless of whether you’re a Verizon customer or not. So long as your smartphone or tablet is running iOS 8 or greater or Android OS 4.4.2 or newer, respectively, you’re good to go. However, only Verison customers will be able to steam without affecting cellphone data. If you’re connecting using Wi-Fi, that won’t be an issue, but if you’re on the go, you’ll need to be careful.
Nothing illustrates the odd existence of go90 like its programming, which wildly fluctuates from “wow, they have that?” to “what even is that?” As a mobile service, its most significant boons are its scripted shows and sports options.
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On the sports front, go90 has a leg up on the competition thanks to its partnership with NFL mobile, allowing users to watch local and primetime NFL games for free on their smart devices without using their data. You won’t be able to watch every game, but especially for cord-cutters who don’t subscribe to a streaming TV service, it’s a great solution.
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Beyond the NFL, go90 offers live broadcasts of soccer options like La Liga and Ligue 1, the Women’s Tennis Association, MotoGP, NCAA College Football, rugby, and more. Sports broadcasts air live and offer a remarkably clear picture. I tested the service on an iPhone SE in Atlanta and Los Angeles, and I experienced high-quality video on every livestream I watched over my LTE connection. It’s great to not have to worry about my GPS slowing to crawl later because I watched a game and am now out of data.
go90 movies and TV shows
When it comes to scripted programming, go90 carries a range of movies and TV shows, some classics, some not. You can expect to see a handful of great movies pop up from time to time, including 1984, When Harry Met Sally, and Mortal Kombat (yes, it’s a great movie), with reliable afternoon TV favorites like Demolition Man adding flavor. But be prepared to dig a little to find the gold, because all the stuff you want to watch is sandwiched between campy B-movies and direct-to-video titles that take up a lot of space. Dig and you’ll find a Teen Wolf. Accept what pops up first in the menu and you might be watching The Cutting Edge 2.
On the scripted TV front, go90 is split between its original content and licensed shows. Licensed favorites like Fringe and Veronica Mars are well worth your time, as is the criminally underrated Babylon 5. Much of go90s series options are your standard hour-long dramas and genre shows. Sometimes you’ll discover hidden gems, though we wish the interface made it easier to sort listings. (That’s something we’ll get to a little later.)
If you’re not interested in reruns, go90 has lots of original programming, though it’s mostly made up of short-form videos. Our favorite of its original series, Guidance, is made up of four- to six-minute-long episodes and follows in the footsteps of classic high school melodramas like Degrassi. The similarly themed high school horror comedy Snatchers, about a teen who finds herself pregnant with an alien baby, has its charms but often feels constrained by its brevity.
Go90 has a little bit of everything, from DIY crafts shows to music programming and shows by street culture forces like Complex. The service’s original programming drives home that the intended audience for the service is 18-35-year-olds. Don’t expect a revival of This Old House from it.
We should give credit where credit is due. One area go90 excels at is animation. Go90 is packed full of it, from full-length animated Marvel and DC movies to whole anime series like Fullmetal Alchemist and Blue Exorcist.
For all the money and effort that has been put into go90, the app is a frustrating mixed bag. Streaming is, to put it simply, great. I tested the service while traveling through multiple states and found every stream to be crisp and clear. Whether I was watching a live event or Wishmaster for the hundredth time, go90s video quality stands out on the tiny iPhone SE.
But then there’s the interface. While go90 makes it easy to find the content it’s pushing, especially live sports, finding anything else can be a chore. The interface often mixes everything, whether it’s a movie or a show, leading to cluttered lists that make finding something to watch like a needle in a haystack. After using the app for several hours, whenever I thought I’d uncovered everything I cared about, I’d discover a lost show like Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles or a movie I’d like to see, such as the original Point Break, buried at the bottom of a menu.
It may seem odd to complain about, but after years of using Netflix and Amazon, this kind of disorganization is frustrating. Want to sort shows alphabetically to quickly find something? Too bad. That’s not how go90 works.
Is go90 worth it?
There’s a lot of to love about go90’s free video streaming, from its oddball selection of classic shows and movies to its great streaming quality. This should make it easy to recommend, but a few nagging sticking points keep getting in the way. First, go90 is hampered by a confusing interface that makes it difficult to look for specific kinds of content, and if you’re not a Verizon customer, you’ll basically be punished for using the app in the form of your data usage.
If you’re a Verizon customer looking to follow live sports, go90 is a great asset. For everyone else, there are better options in the streaming market.
Correction: Verizon still offers unlimited plans, but it announced in August that it will sometimes throttle video streaming for unlimited customers.
John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adopter, he's an expert on streaming services (Hulu with Live TV), devices (Roku, Amazon Fire), and anime. A former staff writer for TUAW, he's knowledgeable on all things Apple and Android. You can also also find him regularly performing standup comedy in Los Angeles.