Last November, T-Mobile launched its own live TV streaming service, TVision, exclusively to its wireless and internet customers. Going up against rivals like YouTube TV or Sling, TVision was competitively priced at $40 per month (or just $10 per month for the more limited version, TVision Vibe). Only five months later, however, TVision will be shut down as of the end of April, and T-Mobile will instead promote third-party live TV services, YouTube TV and Philo. Existing TVision customers will be offered $10 off YouTube TV and/or Philo each month, and if they are new to either, they can get a free month when they subscribe. On April 6th, T-Mobile began offering this discount on YouTube TV to all of its postpaid, or regular monthly, wireless customers.
In an official blog post, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert noted that his company has learned a lot about streaming, which he called an “incredibly fragmented” industry, and that it’s in T-Mobile’s and the customers’ best interest to “negotiate incredible streaming media deals.”
He also acknowledged that video is a Trojan Horse of sorts for T-Mobile, which views streaming “as a critical ‘door-opener’ for our forthcoming Home Internet business.” T-Mobile has been deploying wireless home internet for $60 per month in a direct bid to take on the cable companies across America. The company is aiming to have 500,000 internet subscribers by the end of this year, with 7-8 million customers by 2025.
“T-Mobile’s entry into the pay-TV space was an uphill battle,” said Brett Sappington, Vice President of Interpret. “It is a thin margin business with increasing online competition and rising content costs, and market-wide declines in subscribership. By partnering, T-Mobile lets YouTube and Philo bear the risk of maintaining a successful video service and is able to instead spend its resources in other strategic areas.”
With YouTube TV, Philo, and other similar partnerships in the future, T-Mobile can offer an attractive streaming proposition to its more than 102 million customers in the US. According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, 7% of T-Mobile customers in the US subscribe to YouTube TV, compared to 12% of AT&T subscribers. A $10 discount, however, could incentivize more of that base to subscribe while potentially also luring new customers into the T-Mobile fold if they’re interested in streaming discounts.