T-Mobile and Viacom on Wednesday announced a content distribution deal covering live channels and on-demand video for a mobile TV service T-Mobile will launch later this year.
Viacom said its brands, including MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET and Paramount, will play a key role in the service, which will arrive after T-Mobile launches its in-home TV service.
The companies didn’t offer up many details about the distribution deal and how Viacom’s channels will fit into T-Mobile’s plans, but comments from T-Mobile CEO John Legere in a news release issued by the companies suggest his firm is planning something similar to the service aggregation platforms offered by Amazon, Apple and Comcast.
“TV programming has never been better, but consumers are fed up with rising costs, hidden fees, lousy customer service, non-stop BS. And MacGyvering together a bunch of subscriptions, apps and dongles isn’t much better. That’s why T-Mobile is on a mission to give consumers a better way to watch what they want, when they want,” said Legere in a statement from the release.
T-Mobile last year acquired pay TV provider Layer3 TV, and planned to launch a TV service before the end of 2018. But, the company has delayed those plans as it works to complete its acquisition of Sprint, ramp up its 5G mobile network rollout and begin offering fixed wireless broadband service – which will provide the backbone for its in-home TV service.
As Viacom points out in its news release today, once the in-home TV service is up and running, T-Mobile’s mobile TV service will launch.
Earlier this year, T-Mobile Chief Operating Officer Mike Sievert provided some further details about T-Mobile’s mobile video service plans. He said that T-Mobile wants to provide a service that helps customers choose the video subscription plans that make the most sense for them, as well as handling billing and search and discovery for those services.
“We think there’s a more nuanced role for us to play in helping you get access to the great media brands out there that you love and to be able to put together your own media subscription in smaller pieces: $5, $6, $7 or $8 at a time,” said Sievert. “It’s an exciting future for us.”
As for Viacom, today’s announcement confirms comments CEO Bob Bakish has been making for more than a year regarding Viacom’s ongoing talks with U.S. wireless service providers.
“Today’s landmark announcement marks a major step forward in our strategy to accelerate the presence of our brands on mobile and other next-generation platforms, and we’re so excited to partner with T-Mobile to provide millions of subscribers with access to our networks and more choice in a new service that will be unlike any other in the market,” said Bakish in a statement from today's release.