Mobile Jumps Into Internet TV Arena With Layer3 TV Acquisition

Building on its about-to-be-acquired startup Layer3 TV, now available in five markets, the planned T-Mobile service extends on its prior offerings of "unlimited" pay music services and Netflix to phone subscribers, but T-M TV will not be limited to T-Mobile's network.

T-Mobile, which recently ended merger talks with Sprint, has 15,000 retail stores and "access to tens of millions of handsets", as Legere put it, giving it advantages in terms of ramping up the service.

Details about the new TV service, which will build on Layer3's existing presence in select markets, including Los Angeles, have not come into focus. The service will launch next year, according to T-Mobile CEO John Legere. To make this possible, the carrier has announced that it is acquiring Layer3 TV, which refers to itself as a "next generation cable company".

Layer3 TV's investors include Evolution Media - whose shareholders include TPG Growth, CAA, and Jeff Skoll/Participant Media - Paulson & Co., France's Altice, and North Bridge Venture Partners.

It's unclear at this time what T-Mobile's over-the-top TV service will look like, and whether, like the bundling schemes that the company is criticizing, it will be offered at a discount with wireless service.

The service will target people who aren't interested in traditional cable and satellite TV packages. "It's time for a disruptor to shake things up and give people real choice like only the Un-carrier can".

The planned T-Mobile wireless TV service will join a growing host of other streaming services including Sling TV, DirecTV Now, YouTube TV, Hulu's live TV service, FuboTV, PlayStation Vue, and Philo, all of which are currently available as apps on Apple TV.

As far as hardware goes, the service will require some kind of in-home box, but could be user-installed and would utilize a customer's chosen broadband provider.

What Layer3 does seems very different from the kind of mobile video entertainment synergy T-Mobile wants to provide.