T-Mobile is going to enable your binge-watching habit
T-Mobile Unleashes Mobile Video with Binge On™.
T-Mobile Chief Executive Officer John Legere, poking at larger rivals Verizon and AT&T, unveiled the new offer that lets subscribers watch videos from selected providers without having to pay extra in data charges. NEW YORK, N.Y. – Streaming video from Netflix, HBO and other leading services will no longer count toward data limits under T-Mobile’s higher data plans.T-Mobile will allow users to stream Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, HBO Go and more than a dozen other video services without any affect to their data allowances, the company announced on Tuesday.LOS ANGELES, Nov 10, 2015 (BUSINESS WIRE) — At an event held today in the entertainment capital of the world, T-Mobile TMUS, -3.97% announced its landmark 10 [th] Un-carrier move and responded directly to Americans’ surging demand for mobile entertainment by — of all things — unleashing mobile video.
T-Mobile’s move adds to earlier promotions like free music streaming, data rollovers and cheap international roaming that have attracted more than 1 million new monthly subscribers in each of the past five quarters. In move that puts pressure on competitors and more expensive mobile carriers, T-Mobile will allow data-free streaming from 22 different video platforms, many of them premium cable channels, YouTube not among them. The feature called Binge On still requires customers to subscribe to pay video services, similar to T-Mobile’s earlier programs to allow data-free music streaming.
Beginning this Sunday, video streams free at T-Mobile for subscribers of HBO, Hulu, Netflix, SHOWTIME, Sling TV, STARZ, WatchESPN and more — with more streaming services on the way — without ever burning up customers’ high-speed data. But the plan could also make T-Mobile the battleground in the fight between net neutrality proponents and companies that want to be able to steer users toward certain kinds of content. John Legere, the controversial CEO of T-Mobile, said the streams would cap at 480p – a lower quality than most online video, but still one that has the potential to put pressure on the company’s network assets. On top of that, the Un-carrier today also amped up its flagship Simple Choice plan—in the biggest update to Simple Choice ever—by doubling the data at every level and cutting the cost of extra gigs. The moves also have cut T-Mobile’s profit margins to almost half those of Verizon. “These are some bold moves by T-Mobile,” analyst Mark Lowenstein wrote in his Lowenstein’s Lens on Wireless newsletter. “They will help keep the net (subscriber) add momentum going for the company for the next few quarters, at least.” Last month, Verizon started the free video service go90 and signed agreements with the NBA, the NFL and media partners to stream programming.
Not only is it similar to what the firm has already done on music, hints of this announcement had started popping up in media reports earlier this month. But spectrum may be the least of Legere’s worries: net neutrality provisions specifically prohibit internet “fast lanes” that privilege access to some kind of data and restrict access to others. While the net neutrality rules passed by the FCC earlier this year were notably silent on the topic of “zero-rating” – which is what T-Mobile is doing in this case – it remains a hotly contested topic.
He played a short video message from actor Aaron Paul — who happens to also be starring in the company’s spots for the features — in which the “Breaking Bad” star said he’d been the source of the leaks. Zero rating is the practice of picking a service that consumers won’t be required to pay for, thus making it more attractive for use and theoretically taking share away from other services that the consumer would effectively pay to use. T-Mobile said it worked with the video service providers to optimize video streams so that they maintain DVD-level quality on a mobile phone without transmitting as much data. As with the “Music Freedom” program, T-Mobile said that no company is paying to be a part of the program, and that any streaming video provider can apply to join.
It’s not clear whether HBO or Netflix are paying T-Mobile to have their services distributed for free, but the value for those companies is evident in the proposition. But all customers will benefit from T-Mobile’s new video-optimization technology, which the company says means three times as much video for the same amount of data. Analyst Walt Piecyk at BTIG Research promptly noted the limit on the data-free streaming video quality in a post on Twitter but said the difference would be “probably not distinguishable on an iPhone.” Existing customers will automatically get the deal when it starts next week. T-Mobile is also including Verizon’s Go90 and AT&T’s DirecTV streaming services in Binge On, so even the Duopoly’s video services stream without fear of overages. Normally, “data is wasted because on smaller-screen devices, you don’t need to get all that data to get a great picture,” said Andrew Sherrard, T-Mobile’s chief marketing officer.
Streaming video is the most common way that people use data on T-Mobile’s network, executives said. “Video is exploding. 60 percent of all data is video today,” said Terry Hayes, T-Mobile’s vice president for the Northeast. “It’s forecast to grow another 600 percent.” He said that T-Mobile hopes providers will embrace Binge On as well as they’ve embraced Music Freedom, which he said now includes 95 percent of all content providers. Powered by new technology built in to T-Mobile’s network, Binge On optimizes video for mobile screens, minimizing data consumption while still delivering DVD or better quality (e.g. 480p or better). That means more reliable streaming for services that stream free with Binge On, and for almost all other video, it means T-Mobile Simple Choice customers can watch up to three times more video from their data plan.
And, as always, T-Mobile has put customers in total control with a switch to activate or deactivate Binge On for each line in their My T-Mobile account. The company is also introducing a “Family Match” program that charges less (for example, $10 instead of $15) to add additional data for each family member. This is the tenth “Uncarrier” move that T-Mobile has introduced in recent years, and have helped the company steal subscribers from its competitors, Legere said. With mobile video now the #1 way Americans use smartphone data, Binge On is the Un-carrier’s answer to what today’s customers clearly want most from wireless.
Together, the carriers are projected to rake in a record $2.4 billion this year from overage penalties — up a staggering 60% from $1.5 billion just last year. Roughly one quarter of AT&T and Verizon customers say they’ve been hit by overages in the last 6 months – that’s twice as many Verizon customers getting billed for overages compared to just two years ago.
Worse still, the carriers’ overages scare customers into buying more data each month than they need — only so Verizon and ATT can repossess it after 30 or 60 days. With T-Mobile, on the other hand, Binge On now unleashes customers to watch what they want, when they want and on any device they want — without watching their data.
They can add an extra 4GB of 4G LTE data (on top of the 2GB included), including mobile hotspot data, for just $10 more a month on each line, up to a total of 10GB per line. For families who’d rather customize their data by line, extra data is just $15 a month for each 4GB — compared to $20 a month for 4GB before — a savings of 25% per GB of high-speed data vs. before. While the Duopoly continues to punish customers on their legacy unlimited LTE plans, the Un-carrier announced it is doubling down on Unlimited Smartphone LTE data by doubling the amount of tethered data included from 7GB to 14GB. With the Duopoly, giving employees a smartphone is like creating an open-ended tab where employees can run up insane overages the company has no choice but to pay. For more information on Simple Choice, see www.t-mobile.com/SimpleChoiceplan or for Simple Choice for business, see: www.t-mobile.com/BusinessSimpleChoicePlan.
The Company’s advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to approximately 61 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on quality and value.
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