The Wall Street Journal: How Verizon is forging a future in digital media

Hollywood producer Craig Piligian pitched a reality show to major television networks last year, and every one passed. Then, after an October meeting, the nation’s largest cellphone carrier snapped it up.

“They stepped up big time. It was broadcast-network money,” Piligian said of the deal with Verizon Communications Inc. VZ, -1.64% Verizon agreed to finance more than 100 short episodes of “The Runner,” about contestants who try to cross America without being caught by other players, including viewers.

The show, which plays online and on Verizon’s smartphone video app, is part of a more than $10 billion gamble by Verizon to build a digital-media business to compete with Facebook and Google for advertising dollars.

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