On their Q4 2018 earnings call today, T-Mobile discussed their decision not to launch a skinny bundle similar to Sling TV, Philo, AT&T TV NOW, and YouTube TV. While they already bundle Netflix for customers on their T-Mobile One plan, T-Mobile President, Mike Sievert explained the company’s two-tiered TV strategy.
T-Mobile plans to launch their re-branded home TV service, Layer3, in the first half of 2019, which they had originally hoped to launch in late 2018. This comes as they expand home broadband coverage in the United States through their upcoming 5G service.
He sees T-Mobile’s role not as developing yet another skinny bundle, but as a way to bring mobile and television services together. T-Mobile plans to position itself as a way to discover and pay for OTT services like Amazon Channels.
“We don’t have plans to develop an undifferentiated skinny bundle, there are plenty of those. 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 to together your own media subscription in smaller pieces, $5, $6, $7, $8 at a time. It’s an exciting future.”
Sievert described the mobile streaming market as “subscription palooza,” where every brand is developing or has subscription service, but most companies are struggling to bring products to market. He noted that many companies lacks T-Mobile’s distribution network.
“Customers have incredible array of optionality today…we think we can play a role of bringing these worlds of media and the rest of your digital and social life together, helping you choose the subscriptions, billing, search and discovery of content,” Sievert said.
It’s not surprising that T-Mobile is taking on Amazon Channels. Based on recent reports, we can expect Amazon’s Prime Video Channels business to net $500+ million from their streaming partners, and Amazon currently drives 53% of HBO’s direct-to-consumer subscribers. Other streaming companies hope to follow suit and expand their acquisition channels as well.
They aren’t the only company looking to take on Amazon either. Roku launched their premium subscription service last month, Apple is expected to launch theirs in April, and Facebook has been reportedly planning one as well.