Say That Again

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
cable tv, competiton, disruption, john legere, tv

Companies:
t-mobile



T-Mobile Not So Subtly Hints That It Wants To Disrupt The Cable TV Industry

from the a-swift-kick-in-the-pants dept

While T-Mobile isn't without its faults (like its opposition to net neutrality, or the time its CEO mocked the EFF), there's little doubt that T-Mobile has been a good thing for the wireless industry. The company has managed to drag the industry kicking and screaming in an overall positive direction, including the elimination of the carrier-subsidized handset model, the elimination of annoying hidden fees, and the recent return to more popular unlimited data options. And its brash CEO John Legere, while sometimes teetering into absurd caricature, has at least managed to bring a sense of industry to a traditionally droll telecom sector.

And while T-Mobile had been mocking AT&T and Verizon's forays into video as "distractions," the company this week strongly hinted that it may bring a little bit of disruption to a sector that needs it most. Both Legere and T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert made numerous comments during their earnings call this week making it pretty obvious they wanted to test the market's reaction to the idea of some kind of T-Mobile video service:

"Talk about a poster child for an industry that has really kind of ignored customers and ignored customer cares and gouged at every corner,” Legere said of the pay-TV market during T-Mobile’s earnings call Tuesday. “Clearly, I salivate when I think about the possibilities of changing some of those (video) industries. And frankly, I’m fascinated with how little AT&T has done since they spent the mother lode buying DirecTV, and pretty much have let it sit on the side, and still be an old, crappy linear TV that they bundle weakly with their unlimited offer, so maybe more to come."

Subtle. Legere didn't get into specifics about how T-Mobile would enter the sector, but one possibility remains some kind of M&A with Dish Network, which has plenty of TV assets and a long-harbored desire to jump into the wireless sector (Dish has been not-so-quietly hoarding wireless spectrum for a long while). Like Legere, Sievert also spent more than a little time making fun of the cable sector, which continues to sport some of the lowest customer satisfaction ratings in any industry in America:

"The data on this is really clear. The cable industry is statistically one of the most unloved industries in the history of the consumer economy. So, obviously, it’s ripe for innovation in this area,” T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert said on the call. “I’ll tell you one thing, in 2017 we will reach the point where people have more screen time on mobile devices than on any other kind of screen, that’s really something incredible when it comes to watching their video. So we’ll see how this convergence unfolds, but in it we’re where the industry is going, not where it’s coming from, and we’ve got a brand that really resonates with people and possibly could resonate in an industry that’s even more maligned than we found ours four years ago when we got here."

A Dish M&A is one of the more palatable consolidation possibilities facing the telecom sector under what's expected to be a dramatically more M&A-friendly Trump administration. T-Mobile is also a rumored acquisition target for Comcast or Charter Communications, neither of which would be likely to continue T-Mobile's foray into price competition or disruption. Similarly, a Sprint acquisition of T-Mobile would reduce the number of overall wireless carriers in the space, reducing competition and potentially putting T-Mobile's disruptive run to an ignominious end.


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  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 17 Feb 2017 @ 7:44am

    T-Mobile went from this, Aww, how cute. A little wireless provider playing with the big dawgs, to a competitive force in the market forcing change on the old school players.

    All it took was catering to customers and giving them what they want at an affordable price.

    Damn those crazy kids!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2017 @ 9:47am

      Re:

      | All it took was catering to customers and giving them what they want at an affordable price.

      That and $4 billion worth of cash and spectrum from the failed AT&T merger.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 17 Feb 2017 @ 7:49am

    That actually does look interesting. It would be fun to see how this develops...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jinxed (profile), 17 Feb 2017 @ 9:14am

    Looking forward to the day my cable channels comprise only of content providers willing to pay for zero rating.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2017 @ 9:52am

      Re:

      What have you got against start up and small time operations that cannot afford to pay multiple ISP's fpr zero rating. Encouraging zero rating is a way to entrench the big players, and soon leads to the pushing cheap programs, as they do will not have any serious competition, especially after several rounds of buyouts.

      If an ISP can provide unlimited data in zero rated packages for some services, then they have enough bandwidth to do the same for all services. Zero rating is just a way of adding extra costs to your Internet connection, by getting services to charge you on their behalf.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2017 @ 12:50pm

    T-Mobile, before you jump in to shake the pay-TV, I suggest you take a serious look at the ISP opportunities available all over the country. I know you have to select your battles, but the ISP one is far easier. Think about it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Karl Roebling, 20 Feb 2017 @ 3:01pm

    Content owners are the beneficiaries of T-Mobile, Verizon & ATT getting into bidding war with cable for programming.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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