T-Mobile Kills Live TV Service Just A Few Months After Launch

from the that-went-well dept

You might recall that pre-merger T-Mobile used to make fun of the wireless sector's repeated failures in the TV space, such as Verizon's massive Go90 face plant. Of course, at the same time, T-Mobile was busy planning its own streaming TV efforts. Launched just last fall, T-Mobile's TVision TV service was supposed to truly disrupt the stodgy TV sector (something already happening at the hands of countless platforms). T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert explained it like this last October:

"If ever there was an industry that needed an Un-carrier overhaul, it’s cable and satellite TV,” Sievert said, using the company’s term for its disruptive moves in the wireless industry. “I mean, it’s no secret why these companies are dying, they treat their customers so badly."

That was then, this is now. Less than half a year later, T-Mobile is now scrapping its live TV service and striking a deal to offer YouTube live TV services instead:

"It’s a major change for T-Mobile’s TVision service, which was launched just a few months ago, including both live and on-demand content. T-Mobile says the existing TVision Live, Live + and Live Zone services will be phased out starting April 29. T-Mobile customers will get a $10/month discount on YouTube TV, bringing the price down to $54.99/month, as well as a month of free service."

As Verizon and AT&T, have found, disrupting the TV sector is no easy feat, even when (in AT&T's case) you actually own a massive content empire in Time Warner. There are numerous reasons for telecom's failure to compete meaningfully in this space, a lot of it having to do with the fact that telecom giants, used to the lack of serious competition in broadband, aren't genuinely used to this whole disruption, competition, adaptation, and innovation stuff. Even T-Mobile, which made its fortunes being a competitive thorn in AT&T and Verizon's side, didn't find it to be a particularly easy road.

Granted there is still something to be said for T-Mobile figuring this out before it poured countless billions down the drain. Sort of. The company did spend an estimated $325 million to buy premium streaming vendor Layer3TV back in 2018.

Still, the losses aren't as bad as say, AT&T, which spent nearly $200 billion in megamergers thinking it was going to dominate the TV sector, only to lose 8 million TV subscribers in a few years (something I recently wrote about at The Verge) because it had absolutely no idea what it was actually doing. T-Mobile also seemed to assume this would be an easier path that it actually was, made tougher by the fact that the same broadcasters driving relentless price hikes in traditional TV, are also doing the same thing in streaming:

Another factor at play is that this version of T-Mobile isn't actually as disruptive as the trash-talking version helmed by former CEO John Legere just a few years ago. Thanks to the Sprint merger, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile see significantly less competition. As a result, investors will inevitably pressure them to compete even less intently on price, and they'll inevitably comply. As a result, all of T-Mobile's "uncarrier" disruptive plays have been getting progressively lamer and lamer, with the company desperately hoping nobody notices.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: mike sievert, tv streaming, tvision
Companies: t-mobile


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Pixelation, 1 Apr 2021 @ 2:04pm

    Hollywood greed

    It seems like one of the major problems cable has is the terrible contracts/requirements the entertainment industry demands. It ends up that they can't or it's too expensive, to give customers what they want. With the internet, we have plenty of other entertainment options.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Apr 2021 @ 8:31pm

      Re: Hollywood greed

      I'm shocked to see that not only is Youtube charging $55/month for... something?... and, that price is after the discount. So, $65/month normally? What's that for, and are people actually paying it, or will this be the next service to die? I mean, it's Google, so it's likely they're half-assing it in some way...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nerdrage (profile), 1 Apr 2021 @ 3:21pm

    why does live TV still exist?

    Other than sports and news, there's no good reason for TV to be "live" anyway. Netflix, Disney+, Amazon, HBO Max etc are taking over what used to be called live TV. It's live when you want to watch it.

    As for sports, I think that's taking shape on streaming now. Fubo or maybe Amazon will figure out the right approach.

    News? Not sure what role it plays in streaming. Nobody seems willing to pay for news, unless it's some kind of wingnut/moonbat conspiracy nonsense. Trumps' "news" streaming platform should do very well. There's one born every minute...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Apr 2021 @ 8:27pm

      Re: why does live TV still exist?

      Other than sports and news, there's no good reason for TV to be "live" anyway.

      There's nothing fundamentally special about sports that makes "liveness" more important than a movie or a TV episode. You might want to see it as soon as possible, but that's just your preference, and I might have a similar preference with respect to blockbuster movies.

      News, of course, only "needs" to be live because of its definition. That says nothing about whether most of the stuff on "the news" is actually something we need to see as news. We might be better off learning about most such information a day or a week after it happens—if ever. Haven't we all seen enough of reporters standing around emergency vehicles with no real information, just speculating to fill airtime?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      morganwick (profile), 1 Apr 2021 @ 9:16pm

      Re: why does live TV still exist?

      Sports, and other events lots of people want to watch at once like awards shows and breaking news, might be enough. Streaming still struggles with audiences beyond the order of a couple million, and it'll probably never do as well at it as the one-to-many linear TV architecture. But that probably only requires a handful of channels total, maybe enough to count on one hand.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Samuel Abram (profile), 2 Apr 2021 @ 2:42pm

        Re: Re: why does live TV still exist?

        PlutoTV is great at Live TV events, and you don't fucking need cable or satellite for it. There are also free live streaming apps on Roku, last I checked. For sports fans, I believe they now have more options such as ESPN+ and other apps.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Apr 2021 @ 2:42am

    A streaming service needs to have content that people really want , drama, comedy, s, true crime, films,
    CNN fox news cnbc will exist on cable TV they still get big ratings
    Alot of nfl is being show broadcast on standard TV but will also will be streamed at the same time under the new 2021 contracts
    Disney is making alot of new star wars and marvel shows
    cos they know fans will pay to acess new content
    There's alot of old shows being rebooted for streaming
    Services
    Maybe it'll take years for it all to shake out
    as to what streaming services gain a large audience
    I don't think Att will ever get back the billions they spent on
    Directtv

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Apr 2021 @ 3:48am

      Re:

      Except where real time is what is required, like sports, broadcast TV will die, because on demand allows people to set their own schedule, rather than having it set by the broadcaster.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.