- T-Mobile pulls the plug on its streaming video offering and offers YouTube TV instead.
- The phone giant billed the move as part of a broad partnership with Google and streamer Philo.
- Video costs will go up for many T-Mobile customers.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Phone giant T-Mobile is axing its three streaming video service bundles that operate under the brand name TVision, with the possible loss of hundreds of jobs. The company confirmed the news in a corporate statement on Monday, March 29.
Insider had reported on the possibility of a shut-down on March 22 after sources shared news of internal unrest at the video unit. The phone company is shuttering the service at the end of April, according to the release which reported that Live, Live Plus and Live Zone would be replaced by YouTubeTV, with T-Mobile offering a month for free. The $10-per-month TVision Vibe package is being replaced by streamer Philo, which is backed by A&E, Discovery, ViacomCBS and AMC.
The company told employees it would try to relocate them, according to a knowledgable source, but it’s unclear where they would reassign employees dedicated to video programming.
A spokesperson for the company told Insider: “There are no layoffs announced or planned,” adding that employees would support Philo, YouTube TV and future streaming partners as well as other aspects of the Google partnership.
Customers can get Philo for a limited time for $10 per month and receive YouTube TV for $54.99 per month. TVision was priced at $10 per month for the bare bones service and sold other packages for $40, $50, and $60 per month.
“YouTube TV is becoming T-Mobile’s live TV solution, with Live, Live + and Live Zone services winding down on April 29,” the company said in a release. “TVision LIVE subscribers will get the first month of YouTube TV on us. And after that, all T-Mobile customers can get $10 off the regular price.” The chief executive, Mike Sievert, shared a blog post about the changes, portraying them as another move to fight cable operators.
T-Mobile, which markets itself as being very different from rivals, couldn’t figure a path to profitably operate the service. T-Mobile, which recently swallowed rival Sprint, offered its phone and home internet customers TV channels for as little as $10 per month.
In an October interview with Fox Business, Sievert said: “It’s the cable-opoly who we’re taking on here. That’s who should be most nervous.” Sievert went on to say other streamers had a tradition of overcharging customers for things they didn’t want. “And what’s happening is people are bundling more and more in when customers want just the opposite. They want choice.”
The move is seen as yet another example of the struggles that telecoms firms have operating video bundles. Verizon closed a video service called Go90 in 2018. T-Mobile, owned by Deutsche Telekom and Japan’s SoftBank, had also offered users short form video service Quibi, which shut down last year. The closure is expected to result in a write down in the hundreds of millions. Verizon’s Go90 resulted in a $900 million loss.
The change, however, is a big opportunity for YouTube TV, which now gets access to T-Mobile’s hundred million-plus subscriber base.
TVision not only suffered from contentious fights with programmers such as Discovery and ViacomCBS over which tiers their programming would appear on. It also received a blow from a financial meltdown at MobiTV, the app based platform that operates TVision. MobiTV filed for Chapter 11 on March 1.
In his blog, Sievert added: “This shift may surprise some given last year’s TVision streaming services launch. But innovation seldom follows a straight line.”
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