T-Mobile is still working on its big, disruptive pay TV service, but the company could be launching a free, ad-supported streaming video service within the next few weeks.
According to Cheddar, T-Mobile’s mobile video service is being built on top of licensed technology from Xumo. Users will be able to access free content on connected devices, and the app for the service will come preinstalled on many T-Mobile devices including some Samsung smartphones.
Xumo took to Twitter to refute the report. The company said its working with Metro by T-Mobile on "snackable content app launching on two phones next month."
Not quite. We’re working with Metro by T-Mobile on a snackable content app launching on two phones next month. https://t.co/ptAiWAyZ3g— XUMO (@XumoTV) January 25, 2019
Through its acquisition of Layer3 TV, T-Mobile eventually plans to take on traditional MVPDs such as Comcast, Charter Communications and DirecTV as well as virtual MVPDs like Sling TV, YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV.
But for now, it appears T-Mobile will settle for wading into the AVOD waters where several other programmers and distributors have already set their sights.
This week, Viacom confirmed plans to buy free, ad-supported streaming platform Pluto TV for $340 million. Also this week, Comcast revealed more details about its upcoming AVOD streaming service that will be available for free to pay TV subscribers in the U.S. and Europe through the company’s recent acquisition of Sky.
After T-Mobile last year finalized its acquisition of Layer3, the company said it intended to launch its “disruptive” TV service before the end of 2018. The company has since said that the launch would be pushed back to 2019. A Bloomberg report from December suggested that the process of securing mobile streaming rights was causing difficulties for the company.
During T-Mobile’s third-quarter earnings call, Chief Operating Officer Mike Sievert 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.
“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.
This story has been updated to include comment from Xumo.