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T-Mobile Offering Data-Free Video Streaming

11 Nov, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Seeking to separate itself in the rapidly evolving digital media landscape, wireless carrier T-Mobile, beginning Nov. 15, will enable subscribers to stream HBO, Hulu, Netflix, Showtime OTT, Sling TV, Starz and WatchESPN among 24 over-the-top services, without impacting their monthly 4G LTE data plans. Subscribers must be authenticated OTT video viewers.

T-Mobile is offering subscribers 30% discounts to year-long subscriptions of Dish Network’s Sling TV.

While over-the-top video has burgeoned, traction among wireless device users for long-form video has been undermined by the impact streaming a TV show or movie has on a user’s data plan. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has long commented that traction among subscribers using portable devices lagged behind those streaming at home on the television.

Dubbed “Bing On,” T-Mobile is enabling subs to stream at DVD quality (480p resolution) video services such as Crackle, Encore, Fox Sports, Fox Sports Go, HBO Now, HBO Go, MLB, Movieplex, NBC Sports, Sling Box, T-Mobile TV, Univision Deportes, Ustream, Vessel, Vevo, and Walmart’s Vudu. It is also including Verizon’s Go90 and AT&T’s DirecTV streaming services.

Notably absent from the list is YouTube — the No. 1 online video service. Indeed, the 24 video services included in Binge On account for only 15% of T-Mobile subscribers’ data usage, according to BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk.

T-Mobile customers with Unlimited smartphone LTE get a free streaming movie rental monthly in 2016 with Binge On.

“‘Binge On’ is a game-changing program,” Jeffrey Hirsch, president of global marketing and product planning at Starz, said in a statement.

Citing data suggesting that video now accounts for 48% of all wireless data used by wireless customers, and mobile video usage is poised to surge more than 400% by 2020, T-Mobile says it is avoiding a trend among pay-TV operators and wireless carriers mining incremental revenue via monthly data plans and broadband.

“As we have noted in the past, the dominant [wireless] carriers are reliant on their customers consuming more data in order to grow revenue, earnings and dividends,” Piecyk wrote in Nov. 11 post.

It should be noted, however, that that once a subscriber’s monthly high-speed data allotment is reached, video streams slow to up to 2G speeds until the end of billing cycle.

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