T-Mobile enlists YouTube, Google Play for its Binge On video data plan

T-Mobile makes major changes to its Binge On data plan. Also adding: Red Bull TV, Discovery Go, Fox Business, and more.
Written by Jake Smith, Contributor
(Image: CNET/CBS Interactive)

T-Mobile and Google have finally struck in agreement to add Google Play and YouTube to the mobile carriers Binge On program that allows customers to stream unlimited content at a lower quality without counting against the data paid for monthly.

The agreement follows a dispute between T-Mobile and Google and adds YouTube to a stellar Binge On lineup including ESPN and Netflix.

Google was a long holdout of Binge On, as it throttled users video without consent.

T-Mobile announced on Thursday a change to the plan, allowing customers to opt-out of the data program by texting T-Mobile or using the carrier's app. Companies can also opt-out, but their content will be streamed at a higher resolution and count against a customer's data plan.

"Reducing data charges can be good for users, but it doesn't justify throttling all video services, especially without explicit user consent," a YouTube spokesman told The Wall Street Journal in January during its dispute with T-Mobile.

Further, T-Mobile is extending the option to its partners to optimize the content for Binge On streaming, rather than T-Mobile. YouTube will be the first to take advantage of this.

T-Mobile also announced on Thursday Binge On has signed up Red Bull TV, Discovery Go, Fox Business, Baeble Music, ESNE TV, FilmOn.TV and KlowdTV to the service. Notably missing are Snapchat and Facebook.

For Legere, it's all about choice and he says Binge On gives it to customers. He said in January:

"YouTube complained about Binge On, yet at the same time they claim they provide choice to customers on the resolution of their video. So it's ok for THEM to give customers choice but not for US to give our customers a choice? Hmmm. I seriously don't get it. Customers have MORE choices than before. And these guys are complaining? Who do they think they are? Do they have the right to dictate what my customers - or any wireless consumer - should or should not be able to choose for themselves?? No way!"

In a press release on Thursday, T-Mobile provided the following data points on Binge On:

  • Customers are watching twice as many hours per day, in longer and more frequent viewing sessions, than before launch from free streaming services on qualifying plans with limited high-speed data.
  • More than 57 million GB (57 petabytes) have been streamed without burning up customers' high-speed data. That's like watching Adele's 15 minute Carpool Karaoke with James Corden more than 460 million times.
  • One video provider has seen the number of active viewers spike 90% and watch-times nearly triple from customers with limited high-speed data.
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