T-Mobile has finally unveiled the anticipated relaunch of its TVision pay TV platform, which the so-called "Uncarrier" hopes will one day be the video compliment to its fixed 5G offerings.
The new app-based service, launching Nov. 1, will be initially offered to post-paid T-Mobile wireless customers. It’s a multi-pronged offering, built around an umbrella “TVision” app, somewhat similar in architecture to Apple TV.
The TVision app is supported by iOS and Android mobile devices, as well as on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Android TV (or the new Chromecast with Google TV). Roku, the top connected TV device ecosystem, does not support TVision. There was no mention of support for the major gaming platforms, Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation, either.
Users can also opt to purchase T-Mobile’s $50 TVision Hub, an Android TV-powered HDMI dongle that uses the same hardware as Dish Network’s AirTV. TVision Hub includes a full-featured remote control built for TVision services, but T-Mobile doesn’t seem entirely wedded to selling its own hardware. Notably, it’s offering an $80 discount on the Cadillac of OTT devices, the Apple TV 4K, to those who sign up for premium iterations of TVision pay TV service.
As for those core pay TV services, subscribers can choose between three “TVision Live” tiers:
> The base TVision Live TV offering delivers more than 30 channels, including ABC, FOX, NBC, ESPN and TNT/TBS, in addition to a 100-hour cloud DVR, for $40 a month.
> TVision Live TV Plus adds more than 10 additional channels, including the NFL Network, ESPNU, SEC Network and Golf Channel, for $50 a month.
> TVision Live Zone tacks on another 10-plus channels, including NFL Red Zone, for $60 a month.
Those who sign up for TVision Live TV Plus or TVision Zone by Dec. 31 can buy an Apple TV 4K from T-Mobile for only $99.
TVision also offers a $10-a-month skinny-bundle that includes 30-plus entertainment channels—AMC, BET, Discovery, Food Network, Hallmark, HGTV, MTV and TLC--but no sports or news. It's much like virtual MVPD Philo TV, which offers 60 channels for $20 a month.
Notably, while offering MTV in Vibe, T-Mobile doesn’t have a carriage agreement with ViacomCBS as of yet to include CBS in its TVision Live core offering.
None of the TVision-branded virtual pay TV services require contracts or include added fees.
In addition to its vMVPD services, the TVision app will house TVision Channels, which will enable users to subscribe in-app to programming services including Starz, Showtime and Epix. The service is similar to Amazon Prime Video Channels, which disaggregates third-party streaming services all the way down to billing.
T-Mobile, which brands itself in the competitive U.S. wireless business as the iconoclastic "Uncarrier," started its TVision product in 2018, shortly after it purchased startup cable company Layer3 TV. At the time of the $325 million Layer3 purchase, former T-Mobile CEO John Legere said the acquisition would foundation a new kind of "Uncarrier" TV service that would meet the app-based consumption habits of modern TV consumers, sans contracts and fees.
But for the past two years, TVision existed as largely a rebranded version of Layer3, available in finite number of markets and built around traditional pay TV hardware, not apps.
T-Mobile ultimately envisions TVision to be the video compliment to fixed 5G services.
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