T-Mobile runs into unanticipated complexities with pay TV service launch: report

T-Mobile Q318 earnings call (T-Mobile)
T-Mobile revealed during its third-quarter earnings call that its TV service launch was pushed back to 2019. (T-Mobile)

T-Mobile’s plans to disrupt the cable and satellite TV industries after its Layer3 acquisition earlier this year are proving more complex than expected.

Bloomberg cited unnamed sources who said the process of securing mobile streaming rights is causing the launch to be pushed back to 2019. The delayed launch, however, is not necessarily news, as T-Mobile has been candid since the third quarter that its TV service wouldn’t be available in 2018.

“We had hoped to do something at the tail end of this year. [T-Mobile President and COO] Mike [Sievert] was very clear on the third-quarter call that those plans are more going to happen in '19,” said T-Mobile CFO Braxton Carter at an investor conference in November, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. “But to do something fairly innovative when it comes to video and wireless, and we're certainly not sharing what our specific plans are, but there's a lot of people working very hard to bring this dream to fruition, and that's really where the focus is.”

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During the third-quarter earnings call, Sievert did offer some vague details about what T-Mobile wants to do with its TV service. He said T-Mobile wants to create the “first TV service of the 5G era,” but that means having 5G-based internet service in homes nationwide. He said that after T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint is completed, “New T-Mobile” will be able to bring broadband competition to 52% of U.S. zip codes.

RELATED: T-Mobile: Mobile TV service from Layer3 won’t launch until next year

T-Mobile then wants to bundle its TV service with its 5G broadband service.

“And that's what we have our heads down building, a TV service that is free from having to have wires, that has hundreds of high-definition choices coming in wirelessly, that's free from a particular cable box, that puts you in control, that's met your smartphone, that's connected to your social, digital and mobile life in a way that TV has never been before as an island. So that's what we are busy building,” said Sievert, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

He said that T-Mobile’s TV service will be followed by a mobile TV service launching in 2019.

According to the report, T-Mobile had the option of rolling out a streaming TV product similar to services like Dish Network’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, FuboTV and PlayStation Vue. But the company decided to push back the launch to have more time to develop a “more groundbreaking product.”

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