T-Mobile Is Already Pulling the Plug on Its Live TV Services


Photo: ALASTAIR PIKE / Contributor (Getty Images)

Just five months after announcing its TVision streaming bundle, T-Mobile confirmed on Monday that the service will go belly up at the end of April in order to make way for live TV solutions from YouTube TV.

In a blog post, T-Mobile — which recently announced a partnership with YouTube and Google — was careful to characterize the move as a “major upgrade” for customers, and said that in addition to making YouTube TV its official premium live TV service by April 29th, it also plans to slot in Philo as its new base live TV service.

In the release, T-Mobile sought to further clarify that the decision had been made in part because of YouTube’s familiarity with the streaming landscape: “YouTube TV is a leader in this space,” the company said. “It offers the same great flexibility, robust content and convenience that TVision customers love.”

But despite going to lengths to paint the decision to fold early as a savvy pivot, it’s clear that T-Mobile was in way over its head from the beginning. Starting rates for TVision Live had begun at $40/month, with Live Plus and Live Zone each increasing by another $10 — a rate far lower than those offered by other providers, and one that would have made it difficult for T-Mobile to compete seriously in the live TV arena for long.

In the blog post, CEO Mike Sievert is careful to tap dance away from previous claims he’d made back in October, in which he’d touted T-Mobile’s entry into the world of live streaming as a move that would “change TV for good” “...just like we changed wireless for good.”

“Innovation seldom follows a straight line,” Sievert wrote on Monday. “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 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.”

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In addition to phasing out the TVision streaming bundle, T-Mobile will also reportedly be nixing its $10/month TVision Vibe service, as well as TVision Channels. The TVision Hub 4K streaming dongle