T-Mobile is killing its TVision Live and TVision Vibe streaming services just five months after launching them, and pivoting to new partnerships with YouTube TV and Philo.
Both services will shut down on April 29, with YouTube TV now offered as a premium live service and Philo as a base live TV service, with special deals for T-Mobile customers.
TVision Live offered three live bundles, starting at $40 per month. Vibe offered on-demand access to programming from Discovery, AMC, MTV and other networks for $10 per month. Also being phased out: TVision Channels, an aggregator for premium streaming service subscriptions. The TVision Hub 4K streaming device, also introduced last November 1, will still be available, however.
Customers who subscribed to TVision Live, Vibe or both will now be eligible for a $10 discount on the monthly fees for YouTube TV (normally $64.99 per month) and/or Philo (normally $20 per month).
TVision Live customers also qualify for a free month of YouTube TV and three free months of YouTube Premium (normally $11.99 per month). Current TVision Vibe customers qualify for a free month of Philo.
The YouTube TV deal is part of a larger, expanded deal with Google to kick in later this year, in which T-Mobile will also use Google as the default rich messaging solution for customers with Android smartphones, promote Pixel and Android devices on T-Mobile’s 5G network, and use Google One as its preferred phone backup and cloud storage solution.
In a blog post, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert acknowledged that the swift demise of its homegrown streamers “may surprise some,” but “innovation seldom follows a straight line. Since launching the TVision initiative, we’ve learned a lot about the TV industry, about streaming products, and of course, about TV customers. We also saw trends that made us take a fresh look at how to best do in video what we always do: put customers first. With our TV software provider encountering some financial challenges [MobiTV filed for bankruptcy and announced a restricting plan earlier this month] and with our broader, strategic partnerships with Google and Philo, we saw an opportunity to deliver unique value to our customers and strengthen the TVision initiative with the best partners.”
“This industry is incredibly fragmented, with new streaming services launching all the time, and we’ve concluded that we can add even more value to consumers’ TV choices by partnering with the best services out there, negotiating incredible streaming media deals for T-Mobile customers, and helping our customers navigate the increasingly complex streaming world,” Sievert added.
“We’ve always seen video as a critical ‘door-opener’ for our forthcoming Home Internet business, because, even today at the peak of cord cutting and streaming, most homes still buy entertainment and internet connectivity together — and the #1 thing people stream on their home internet connection is video.”
Sievert also positioned the change as “a big upgrade.” YouTube TV “offers more than twice as many channels as TVision Live, and Philo offers nearly twice as many channels as TVision Vibe,” he wrote. “Plus customers of both get unlimited DVR, can watch TV on more devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Chromecast, and more. And just like previous TVision offerings, customers get these new services with no cable box, no annual contracts, no exploding bills, and no hidden fees.”
Last fall, in announcing the launch of T-Mobile’s streaming services and device, Sievert declared that “the Un-carrier” was striking a blow at “the Cableopoly, disrupting another broken industry by giving customers more choices at ultra-competitive prices… Just like we changed wireless for good, today we’re going to change TV for good.”
During the short life of the streamers, some T-Mobile content partners — notably Discovery — raised objections about T-Mobile’s including their channels in the $10-per-month TVision Vibe package.
T-Mobile addressed the problem by announcing that TVision Live customers would receive an additional 33 channels, with Vibe included, thus adding Discovery, AMC Networks and other channels to the basic package.