T-Mobile delayed their TV service because it's hard
posted Saturday Dec 22, 2018 by Scott Ertz
Just a few days over a year ago, T-Mobile announced that they would be entering the already crowded streaming TV business. They believed that they could bring their "uncarrier" attitude that won them fame in the mobile industry to another business model. At the time, the market was heating up, with services like Sling, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, and YouTube TV already on the scene.
The goals were so lofty that they bought Layer3 TV, a cable company with a serious focus on streaming. The service, like FiOS, delivered all television over a network connection provided through fiber optics. T-Mobile planned on using that expertise to create a new service which would include live TV, on-demand offerings, Netflix and Hulu integration, as well as a strong social aspect. You would theoretically be able to see who of your friends are watching a live program with you, as well as integrate commenting and liking that content.
Since December 2017, there has been almost no word about the service, or when in the promised 2018 the service would launch, including at T-Mobile's several high-profile events. This week, according to a Bloomberg report, plans to launch this year have been abandoned. As of now, the plan is to launch in 2019 instead. As it turns out, delivering on CEO John Legere's promise of an industry-changing service is harder than they thought.
Differentiating themselves from the growing list of streaming TV services is definitely going to be a challenge. Since their announcement, several new services have entered the market, including mobile rival AT&T. They are going to have a challenge dealing with comments made by Legere when AT&T started bundling DirecTV with their mobile service, which he considered to be an inappropriate move. Now they'll have to figure out how to market their own service without running afoul of Legere's beliefs of AT&T.
This also comes at a time when T-Mobile is trying desperately to purchase competitor Sprint. They need government approval, which they are receiving right now, but that has taken focus from the upper brass that would have been needed to hit their goal of launching in 2018. A move to 2019 should allow the company to finalize their Sprint acquisition, which is expected to finish in Quarter 1 and focus back on the TV service.