T-Mobile is already shutting down its live TV service, partners with YouTube TV

Only five months after announcing its TVision streaming service, T-Mobile today shared news that TVision’s three bundles of live channels will all shut down at the end of April. The development comes as part of T-Mobile’s new partnership with Google and YouTube, which it’s making out to be a huge deal. The carrier says YouTube TV will now fill the role of its “live TV solution.” The Live, Live Plus, and Live Zone services that were available with TVision will go dark on April 29th.

T-Mobile is giving a free month of YouTube TV to customers who had signed up for one of the TVision Live packages, and all T-Mobile subscribers will be eligible to save $10 on the usual monthly rate of $64.99; so if they want the service, it’ll cost $54.99 per month. They can also get three free months of YouTube Premium.

“YouTube TV is a leader in this space,” T-Mobile said in today’s press release. “It offers the same great flexibility, robust content and convenience that TVision customers love.” The message is clear: T-Mobile is teaming up with a company that has been in this game longer and is already familiar with everything it takes to make streaming, watch-anywhere TV work — even if it feels like the costs keep climbing higher.

In what comes off as an attempt to sugarcoat a short-lived misstep, T-Mobile says its “TVision initiative was launched to give customers new choices and help millions cut the cord, while expanding appeal for the company’s forthcoming wireless home Internet service.” That doesn’t quite match the usual brazen “Uncarrier” tone that T-Mobile had back in October, when CEO Mike Sievert said “just like we changed wireless for good, now we’re gonna change TV for good.” At the time, T-Mobile said TVision Live was “a total game-changer for anyone who wants live news and sports.”

TVision Live had started at $40 / month, with Live Plus and Live Zone each increasing by another $10. As other internet TV providers know, it’s unlikely that T-Mobile would’ve been able to hang on to those lower tiers for long.

The fate of TVision Vibe — a $10-per-month service that provides on-demand access (but not live streams) to shows from AMC, Discovery, MTV, and other networks — isn’t immediately clear. Same goes for TVision Channels, which lets customers aggregate their subscriptions from Showtime, Stars, and Epix. The TVision Hub 4K streaming dongle will remain available, and it sounds like YouTube TV will now get a prominent spot on that device.

You can look at this as a retreat on T-Mobile’s part, but I think its decision is probably the right one. YouTube TV remains the streaming TV service to beat, and there just wasn’t enough about TVision to make it stand out among YTTV and other competitors. Any price advantage was never going to last. Above all else, T-Mobile is still touting its strong 5G network advantage, as evidenced by the Magenta Max data plan it announced in late February. The plan is the only one among major carriers to lift any deprioritization limits on data usage.

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