T-Mobile offers free data usage for video streaming

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 10, 2015 3:43 PM

By Malathi Nayak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - T-Mobile US Inc said on Tuesday it will give customers a new option to stream video from services including Netflix Inc on their mobile devices without having it count against their data plans.

Hoping to attract more users to its network, Chief Executive John Legere announced the wireless provider's new video streaming plan "Binge On" at an event in Los Angeles. The plan will be rolled out later this month, executives said.

"Watch what you want without watching your data," Legere said.

Binge On will be available to customers on high-tier plans that offer 3GB and up, executives said. The videos will be delivered in DVD-like quality, they added.

The move comes at time when many wireless providers, hoping to extract added revenue from customers using data-guzzling apps such as video-streaming services, are coaxing them into upgrading to plans with larger data buckets.

With its plan, T-Mobile is offering free data so customers can watch 24 video streaming services including Time Warner Inc's HBO Now and Dish Network Corp's Sling TV. Other streaming services available include Showtime, ESPN and Hulu.

T-Mobile's biggest competitors Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc have stopped offering unlimited data plans. T-Mobile and Sprint Corp have been "throttling" or slowing down users who overuse their unlimited data plans as they weigh on their network.

To tap revenue from advertising and data usage, Verizon launched a mobile video streaming service "go90" last month aimed at millennials with content partners such as the National Football League and the National Basketball Association. AT&T Inc, which acquired satellite TV provider DirecTV for $48.5 billion, is also gearing up to offer mobile video services.

While T-Mobile is in talks to bring YouTube on board, the company will offer go90 and DirecTV as part of Binge On, executives said.

With Binge On, "we’re going to get and keep more customers ... Also, this will enhance and improve the way we can deliver video across our network," T-Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Sherrard said in an interview.

T-Mobile is not paying the video-streaming services for its new plan, he said.

T-Mobile already offers free music-streaming in a bid to lure customers away from its rivals. As part of a series of initiatives in the past three years, it has eliminated service contracts and allowed users to roll over unused data into their next billing cycle.

Last month, T-Mobile reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue and profit, hurt by initiatives such as lower-priced plans to attract users.

T-Mobile shares fell 4 percent to $37.03 in Nasdaq trading on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Malathi Nayak; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Tom Brown)