T-Mobile has now provided some additional details on its TV ambitions and most noteworthy of which was the confirmation T-Mobile does not plan to launch a so-called “skinny” bundle. The information was provided as part of T-Mobile’s earnings call, following the company’s general Q4 2018 quarterly announcement.
Skinny bundles by nature are designed to be affordable by offering access to a lesser degree of content at what is a typically a lesser price compared to cable. Generally speaking, all OTT streaming and live TV service bundles are skinny bundles when compared to cable.
In the comments given today, T-Mobile’s Mike Sievert made it clear that T-Mobile does not see as much value in this segment simply due to the wide availability of services that are already operating in the market. Sievert did not mention any by name but did state that "every single media brand either has, or is developing an OTT solution."
T-Mobile will look to differentiate itself by focusing more on the ability for consumers to add and remove individual subscriptions at will.
Instead of going down the DIRECTV NOW, Hulu or YouTube TV route where you pay x amount per month and gain access to a number of channels/networks based on agreements between the live TV service and the networks/studios, T-Mobile will let customers choose the subscriptions they want and then calculate the overall cost. In Sievert’s own words, as a customer you will “be able to put together your own media subscription in smaller pieces.”
Sievert also stated that it is currently a “subscription palooza out there” and that’s part of the reason why T-Mobile has chosen this path. It wants to focus on providing customers with the tools and user experience to more easily find the content they want, and subscribe to that content.
For example, instead of a customer having to maintain 4 or 5 different network subscriptions, T-Mobile will let customers add all of those subscriptions through its service and this then allows that customer to focus on just paying the one company (T-Mobile) who in turn makes the relative payments to the other companies on the customer’s behalf. It’s more of a subscription management service in this sense.
This is not a totally new approach as there are already companies offering exactly the same thing. Arguably the most well-known and successful is Amazon with its Amazon Channels solution, although Roku has also very recently launched another version of a subscription management service where you can again add various premium network subscriptions and just pay Roku.
It is worth noting that Sievert was mostly talking in terms of T-Mobile’s mobile TV solution as the company does also plan to fully launch a repackaged version of the Layer3 TV product it purchased in late 2017/early 2018. As it is understood, that side of the service will arrive (already in tested in select markets) as more of a traditional solution for the home.
The repackaged Layer3 TV product was due to arrive in 2018 although it has seen delays in recent months. Sievert today reconfirmed the company’s plan to launch on a more nationwide scale in the first half of this year.