youtubetv logo

T-Mobile and Google have announced a big deal involving video, messaging, storage, smartphones, 5G and more. Perhaps the biggest news is Google’s YouTube TV streaming service will become T-Mobile’s premium TV offering, with streaming service Philo offered as its new entry level video service.

T-Mobile plans to phase out its existing video streaming services launched last year and known as Live TV, Live TV+ and TVision Live Zone. The company will continue to offer its TVision streaming media device, however.

With the new T-Mobile video strategy, subscribers get two discounted streaming offers. A base package from Philo for $10 per month which features 64 channels, but no local broadcast channels or sports. Or an upgraded offer from YouTube TV for $54.99 per month, which features 84 channels, including local channels and sports content..

The decision to make the shift was driven, at least in part, by the recent bankruptcy filing by MobiTV, a key supplier underlying the Live offerings. It’s been a tumultuous video journey for T-Mobile, having made multiple unexpected turns in its strategy.

It was a bit unexpected for the then third largest mobile carrier to announce its video intentions back in 2017 through the acquisition of IPTV provider Layer3. Then T-Mobile CEO John Legere promised to do to the pay-TV industry with the “uncarrier” did to the mobile industry — disrupt it. Those plans have basically fallen flat.

Current T-Mobile CEO Mike Seivert tried to put a good spin on the T-Mobile video retreat, which will now rely on YouTube TV and Philo.

“This shift may surprise some given last year’s TVision streaming services launch. But innovation seldom follows a straight line,” said Seivert in a blog post. “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.”

T-mobile video Youtube TV user guide
YouTube TV User Guide (Source: YouTube TV)

The new strategy is not all that different from T-Mobile arch rival Verizon, who also features a partnership with YouTube TV. Although the T-Mobile YouTube TV promotional price of $54.99 is $10 cheaper than Verizon’s current advertised price of $64.99. YouTube TV is currently priced at $64.99 direct from YouTube.

According to T-Mobile, the TVision initiative was launched to “help millions cut the cord, while expanding appeal for the company’s forthcoming wireless Home Internet service.”

The Home Internet offering is no longer forthcoming but instead has launched in hundreds of markets nationwide.

“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,” said Seivert in his blog post

Expanded Google Partnership

Beyond the T-Mobile video partnership, Google is also expected to expand its role with T-Mobile and the carrier’s 5G plans. The companies plan to promote “the unique experiences” that Android and Pixel devices can deliver on T-Mobile’s 5G network.

Google has a long history with T-Mobile. A press release about the deal between the two companies notes that T-Mobile has helped champion Google’s Android mobile operating system and has more Android smartphone customers than any other U.S. carrier.

Other elements of the T-Mobile Google deal:

  • T-Mobile will expand the array of Pixel and other Android devices that it will carry.
  • Messages by Google will be the default rich messaging offering for “millions of” T-Mobile customers with Android smartphones.
  • Google One will be the wireless carriers’ preferred phone backup and cloud storage solution.

Bernie Arnason contributed to this report.

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