Remember when I wrote about how we’re in a wacky era when companies are all diving into each other’s niches? Yeah, well, here’s more proof: According to Reuters, Verizon is planning to offer a new standalone streaming service that will take aim at Netflix.

Sources close the matter say that, though the initial offering might be a little light in terms of content, it could include movies from Starz Play, Epix or children-oriented videos from Disney or Viacom. When launched (potentially in 2012), it would effectively be available to those outside its existing FiOS broadband and TV markets — meaning that, instead of being limited to its 5 million subscribers, this service could reach as many as 84 million users.

This is very, very intriguing. It would be the first time a TV/broadband company offers streaming services apart from its existing service packages. (Sure, there are offerings like Xfinity, but you have to be a Comcast subscriber to access it.) But you’ve got to wonder if it will throw a wrench into Verizon Wireless‘ plans to resell cable TV from Comcast, Time Warner and Bright House.

Then there’s the question of how many content partners will get onboard. Many programming execs know that the way forward is streaming, yet they’ve been dragging their heels so as not to upset/offend their cable-operator partners. Will they throw these concerns aside and sign on the dotted line with Big Red?

Hard to say, but I do hope Verizon can pull this off, especially if it can line up more content or — dare I say it? — even live TV streaming. Now that would be huge. And it seems like the only way to light a fire under the cable TV industry, with one of their own diving in first.

If Verizon starts offering standalone streaming, would you sign up for it?

[via Reuters]