After months of holding out, Google Play Movies & TV and YouTube have joined T-Mobile’s “Binge On” program.
T-Mobile first launched the controversial program last November. It allows users to stream videos from participating services without it counting toward their data plan. When it launched, 24 services were on board, including Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu, Showtime, and ESPN.
However, Google was unhappy with some aspects of the program and initially refused to participate. Their main complaint was T-Mobile’s throttling of customers by downgrading the quality of all videos without users’ consent.
Google criticized T-Mobile for downgrading the picture quality of all video services, even those that did not partner with the carrier. This meant that YouTube content was downgraded to a lower quality even though they weren’t part of the program and users’ views were counting toward their monthly data limits.
T-Mobile revises plan to calm tensions
T-Mobile has now made some fundamental changes to the way the service works that have convinced Google to get on board. Binge On was initially turned on automatically by default and customers had to opt out of it. Even though T-Mobile said the program was following FCC regulations and could be turned off by customers at any time, they have since adjusted it to provide more transparency and give users more control.
The carrier is improving the way it explains the program to participants and making it easier to turn it on or off. A simple SMS short code or a couple of clicks on the T-Mobile app or website are now all it takes to turn it on or off. This will make it easier for users who wish to view YouTube at a higher resolution, for example.
Moreover, T-Mobile will allow video services that want to optimize their streams to establish an average data limit. This will give them more control and allow them to opt to serve their own mobile-optimized video to Binge On customers rather than letting T-Mobile’s system optimize the video.
Service enjoying tremendous success so far
Google Play and YouTube are being joined by Discovery Go, Fox Business, Red Bull TV, and several other services in participating in the program. Binge On now boasts more than 50 video services that represent 70 percent of all of the videos that the carrier’s customers watch on their devices.
Google is likely to benefit from its participation. T-Mobile reports that its customers now watch twice as many hours of videos per day since the launch of Binge On just four months ago, and they are doing so in viewing sessions that are both more frequent and longer than they were before, giving these services more opportunities to serve up valuable ads.
T-Mobile CEO and President John Legere said: “The facts are clear – Binge On is a runaway hit, and adding these services is just huge! Now T-Mobile customers can watch all of the videos they want from these platforms without even touching their high-speed data.”
Binge On was launched as a way to differentiate T-Mobile from competitors such as Verizon and AT&T.