T-Mobile took another step Tuesday at becoming a true “Uncarrier,” as it likes to be called. The mobile provider said it is now offering unlimited video streaming for customers using Netflix, Hulu and more than 20 other popular streaming apps as part of its “Binge On” initiative.
There are a few caveats: Not every T-Mobile plan qualifies for the unlimited video streaming, so it’s a good idea to make sure yours does before watching all of Netflix’s “Master of None” on your iPhone. Most of the streaming heavy hitters don’t count against your data usage, including Netflix, Hulu, ESPN and HBO Go/Now. However, most conspicuously, YouTube doesn’t appear on that list, and given its status as a mobile video juggernaut, that's not entirely surprising. (No word yet from YouTube about whether it will be jumping on the bandwagon.)
The list is sure to grow, and T-Mobile is claiming the untethering of video streaming is a boon for up-and-comers like Go90, a streaming product from its rival Verizon.
Notably, Dish Network’s (potentially struggling) over-the-top (OTT) service Sling TV is one of the services white-listed. Rumors of a potential Dish and T-Mobile merger swirled this June and July, only to fizzle, as summer romances are wont to do. But analysts agree Dish needs Sling to succeed, and in addition to providing access to popular networks, that means playing nice with data providers of all kinds. The same goes for other OTTs, particularly as younger viewers migrate to smaller screens.
One of the more pressing concerns among streaming services these days is data usage. Video and audio streaming aren’t exactly low-bandwidth activities, and customers are increasingly faced with the reality of having to keep tabs on their consumption. Comcast is already taking steps to get the most money possible out of its broadband customers with data-cap trials in 26 markets, and many mobile carriers switched to usage-based pricing years ago.
T-Mobile’s move runs counter to that thinking, clearly part of its somewhat aggressive efforts to draw in younger customers. Also among these efforts is an eye-gougingly loud ad campaign featuring active, megaphone-bearing youths. Handing over cap-free Netflix is probably more effective.