Competition for Netflix gets serious as Verizon enters ring

Verizon is reportedly planning to launch its own digital streaming service.

it's turning into an all-out war against the major cable companies as yet another major company is reportedly entering the digital streaming market.

Verizon Communications is planning to roll out its own standalone streaming service with film and television content, according to Reuters, based on reports from "several people briefed on the plan."

Interestingly, Verizon is planning to make this platform available outside of markets where it currently offers its FiOS Internet and TV products when it will be launched next year. FiOS isn't available throughout large swaths of the country, and Reuters adds that this streaming service would be available to approximately 85 million Americans at launch time.

This news also comes on the heels of the announcement last week that Verizon picked up a large number of spectrum licenses from Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks. One of the proposed theories as to why Verizon made the purchase was to beef up its network for handling more 4G data traffic, but this streaming solution of its own could also be a valid reason.

This is no petty matter or competition for cable companies, which are already seeing many consumers turn away in favor of not only alternative providers like Verizon FiOS, but also settling for the content they can get from set-top boxes, gaming consoles and the like with a few subscriptions here and there to other digital music and movie providers.

Nevertheless, also threatened here are other digital streaming platforms like Hulu, but more so, Netflix. Earlier this year, it seemed like no one could catch up with the by-mail/streaming subscription service. Then after some major bumps in the road (price hikes, the Qwikster announcement and retraction, scrambling to score deals with studios, selling off bonds, etc.), that future is incredibly uncertain going into 2012.

While it might take awhile to build up the content library (although that could be sizable at the start as Reuters cited potential deals with both Disney and Starz), Verizon might provide one of the most serious threats to Netflix yet if it can produce nearly the same amount or more digital programming than Netflix at better prices. Perhaps Verizon can even get away with the same prices just based on how upset consumers already are at Netflix.

We won't know for certain until Verizon confirms these reports and introduces its new platform in detail, but it could have the potential to completely turn this market upside down in the next year.