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T-Mobile Is Shutting Down Its Pay-TV Services Next Month, Will Offer YouTube TV and Philo Instead

TMobile TVision - Channel Additions
Courtesy of T-Mobile

T-Mobile is throwing in the towel on its ambitious “uncarrier” move to shake up cable TV: The wireless provider is shutting down TVision about six month after launching it.

The company announced Monday that YouTube TV is becoming T-Mobile’s preferred live TV solution, with the three TVision packages it introduced last fall “winding down” on April 29. In addition, T-Mobile is teaming up with over-the-top pay-TV provider Philo to offer a $10 base-level video service.

T-Mobile’s partnership to offer YouTube TV is part of an expanded partnership with Google across an array of products. The pact also will establish Messages by Google as the default rich messaging solution for T-Mobile customers with Android smartphones, as well as promote Pixel and Android devices for T-Mobile’s 5G network. In addition, Google One is becoming the carrier’s “preferred phone backup and cloud storage solution.”

Back in October, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert touted TVision as a game-changing approach to pricing and packaging TV service, with an entry-level package of 30 channels for just $10 per month. “Get ready to un-cable, everybody,” he said at the launch event.

But T-Mobile’s fantastic streaming-TV deals ran afoul of several programming partners. Shortly after T-Mobile launched the new TVision services on Nov. 1, Discovery and ViacomCBS were among the programmers that objected to the packaging of TVision Live and Vibe as violating terms of their distribution contracts. That’s because those distribution agreements specify that any channel in a pay-TV provider’s base tier (i.e., the $10-per-month TVision Vibe package) must be carried in higher-level tiers — which T-Mobile wasn’t doing.

Since launching the TVision initiative, Sievert wrote in a blog post Monday, “we’ve learned a lot about the TV industry, about streaming products, and of course, about TV customers.” He also acknowledged that T-Mobile’s TV software provider “encounter[ed] some financial challenges.”

As part of T-Mobile’s move to offer YouTube TV as its premium TV solution, the company’s wireless customers will be able to subscribe to YouTube TV for $54.99 per month ($10 off the regular monthly price). Existing TVision Live customers will be eligible to receive one free month of YouTube TV as well as three free months of YouTube Premium (regularly $11.99/month).

Current TVision Vibe customers can get one free month of Philo (regularly $20/month), which will cost $10 per month thereafter. Starting April 6, all T-Mobile postpaid wireless and Sprint consumer customers are eligible for the discounted YouTube TV and Philo plans.

In addition, the wireless carrier said it will continue to offer the TVision Hub streaming device, on which YouTube TV will now be featured.