- T-Mobile U.S. announced a deal with Viacom to offer the media giant's channels to wireless phone customers amid a broader push into content. The deal this year will bring programming from Viacom's brands, such as BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount, to a planned streaming video service targeting T-Mobile's 80 million subscribers.
- The companies didn't provide details about the timing of the new service, which will include live TV channels and on-demand shows, or pricing information. The Viacom agreement "will play a key role in T-Mobile's delivery of compelling new mobile video services to consumers later this year," according to the announcement.
- The Viacom deal follows T-Mobile's $325 million acquisition of Layer3 TV in 2018. That team has been working on T-Mobile's in-home TV solution, which the company hopes will replace cable as 5G becomes more prevalent.
T-Mobile's agreement with Viacom comes as wireless companies make a bigger push into content to give customers one less reason to switch to another carrier. Voice calling, internet access and text messaging have become commodities as wireless companies extend their reach around the globe.
The next battleground will be in delivering content, as next-generation 5G technology lets mobile users download two-hour movies in just a few seconds, compared with six minutes on current 4G systems or 26 hours on 3G. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences will be more accessible for activities like online shopping, video gaming or virtual attendance of live events like the Super Bowl.
T-Mobile needs to expand its content offering to keep apace with bigger rivals AT&T and Verizon. AT&T this year completed its acquisition of Time Warner, which gave the telecom giant control of film studios like Warner Bros., pay-TV services like HBO and cable networks like Cartoon Network, CNN, TBS, TNT and TruTV. Verizon last year renamed its Oath media subsidiary as Verizon Media to oversee its stable of brands including AOL, Engadget, HuffPost, TechCrunch, Tumblr and Yahoo!. Verizon Media plans to test out a subscription service for Yahoo! Finance that will charge $55 a month, Business Insider reported.
T-Mobile's agreement with Viacom comes as the carrier seeks federal and state approval for its $26.5 billion acquisition of rival Sprint.