T-Mobile is planning to expand its wireless momentum into providing TV service, bolstered by an acquisition of television startup Layer3 TV.
The Bellevue carrier, which has been steadily growing its customer base for the last four years, said Wednesday it would launch a TV service in 2018 that aims to make the "most-hated" industry ... less hated. Denver-based Layer3 operates an online TV subscription service in five states that brings together live channels, streaming services and social media.
T-Mobile's new TV service will be available to anyone with an internet connection, both in the home and on mobile devices, Chief Operating Officer Mike Sievert said on a conference call.
The company didn't give many details on how much the service would cost or when exactly it would launch in 2018. But it did invoke its hatred of long-term contracts, something that has made T-Mobile's contract-less phone service popular.
T-Mobile's "Uncarrier" campaign seeks to draw customers away from other carriers by offering users unlimited streaming and a one-size-fits-all plan for a flat monthly rate. The carrier had 70.7 million customers at the end of its third quarter, up 1.3 million customers from the previous quarter.
The Uncarrier attitude will now carry over to TV, the company announced Wednesday. Outspoken CEO John Legere denounced competitors such as AT&T and Comcast for offering a bundle of services -- such as wireless, internet and video -- that gives customers lower rates but makes them buy services, such as landlines, that they don't want.
T-Mobile's TV service will be offered as part of a package, company executives said, but will also give customers several options.
The company already provides free Netflix subscriptions to customers who have at least two lines on the T-Mobile One plan. It's unclear if that will carry over to the TV service, which Netflix is sure to be part of.
T-Mobile didn't disclose terms of its purchase of Layer3, which will keep its base in Denver. The acquisition is expected to close in the next few weeks.
The deal has been in the works for some time, Legere said on a conference call Wednesday, and would have gone through even if T-Mobile's ill-fated merger with Sprint had been finalized.
With its Layer3 purchase, T-Mobile joins its larger peers AT&T and Verizon Communications in a strategic shift to media and video ventures as the wireless industry struggles to find new growth. AT&T started an online TV service called DirecTV Now a year ago that recently exceeded 1 million subscribers. Verizon secured expanded rights this week from the National Football League to stream live football games to mobile devices. Verizon also plans to start its own online TV service sometime next year, after several delays.
"It's going to make things interesting," said Roger Entner, an analyst with Recon Analytics. "Companies like AT&T and T-Mobile have the ability to cross-sell TV to their customers. It's easier for wireless carriers to sell TV over the internet than it is for cable companies to sell it over wireless."
© 2018 Seattle Times
syndicated under contract with NewsEdge/Acquire Media. All rights reserved.