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T-Mobile, Viacom Strike Deal for Mobile TV

Jeff Baumgartner
4/3/2019
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T-Mobile's TV game will play at home and on the road.

Expanding on the current in-home rights it has assembled via its acquisition of Denver-based Layer3 TV, T-Mobile has inked a new deal with Viacom that adds an important component enabling the company to offer a batch of TV networks nationwide on its mobile network.

Financial terms weren't disclosed, but the new agreement enables T-Mobile to offer live feeds and VoD content from Viacom-owned networks such as MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET and Paramount nationally. That will expand on the distribution of those Viacom nets that Layer3 TV has been offering for an in-home pay-TV service (with some TV Everywhere rights) in a handful of individual markets, including Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

The new Viacom deal, and associated mobile distribution rights that are tied into it, also sheds some light on T-Mobile's bigger ambition to offer pay-TV packages that can be marketed and sold across the country to its 80 million mobile customers. Viacom is a "cornerstone launch partner" for T-Mobile's forthcoming mobile TV service, the company said, adding that it, along with the team at Layer3 TV, is working to unleash its "first wave of home and mobile TV offerings."

T-Mobile didn't say how it will package and price a mobile TV service that includes the Viacom networks. But T-Mobile CEO John Legere again used the announcement to proclaim that his company's offering will deliver more value than existing pay-TV services.

"TV programming has never been better, but consumers are fed up with rising costs, hidden fees, lousy customer service, non-stop BS," he said in a statement.

Legere added that "Macgyvering together a bunch of subscriptions, apps and dongles isn't much better," seemingly a reference to the content aggregation approaches being undertaken by the likes of Roku, Amazon, Apple and even Comcast.

While video service distribution on its mobile network is key, T-Mobile, which is in the process of merging with Sprint, is also pursuing a strategy to offer a bundle of in-home video and broadband services.

For Viacom, the deal will ensure its networks get distribution on yet another platform, complementing the carriage agreements it has with traditional MVPDs as well as a mix of virtual MVPDs such as Philo.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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