Under the multiyear deal announced Wednesday, Viacom’s portfolio of networks including MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, and Paramount will become part of T-Mobile’s new mobile video services slated to debut later this year. The pact encompasses both live linear feeds of Viacom channels and a range of on-demand content. The companies declined to disclose specific terms.
“Viacom represents the best of the best, most-popular brands on cable, so they are an amazing partner for us!” John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, enthused in a statement.
Viacom is the first TV partner T-Mobile has announced for its forthcoming OTT push. In late 2017, T-Mobile acquired over-the-top TV startup Layer3 TV for about $325 million. With the Layer3 team and technology, the carrier has been building what it has touted as “its first wave of home and mobile TV offerings” — which originally T-Mobile had planned to debut by the end of 2018.
T-Mobile hasn’t revealed launch timing, pricing, packaging or other details of its new OTT television services. Execs have said the company plans to go out first with an in-home TV solution — designed for delivery over 5G — aimed at replacing cable TV. On the mobile TV side, Viacom will be a “cornerstone launch partner,” according to T-Mobile.
“TV programming has never been better, but consumers are fed up with rising costs, hidden fees, lousy customer service, nonstop BS,” Legere said.
Viacom’s deal with T-Mobile comes after the cable programmer engaged in a heated contract dispute with AT&T; the parties resolved their differences last month to avert a blackout of Viacom channels on DirecTV.
The new T-Mobile entertainment service “represents an important evolution in how audiences consume our content,” said Bob Bakish, Viacom’s president and CEO, in a statement. “Today’s landmark announcement marks a major step forward in our strategy to accelerate the presence of our brands on mobile and other next-generation platforms.”
Separately, T-Mobile’s proposed $26.5 billion acquisition of Sprint — announced a year ago — is still pending regulatory approval. Execs for both carriers have claimed the merger would create a next-generation wireless player that would be able to better vie with AT&T and Verizon as well as bring new competition to cable operators with in-home broadband service.