T-Mobile, YouTube Bury the Hatchet

After claiming that Binge On, T-Mobile’s new optional service that delivers video in 480p resolution and  zero-rates the streams of dozens of OTT partners, was akin to “throttling,” YouTube has partnered up after T-Mobile altered some elements of the program.

In a blog post about YouTube’s decision to join Binge On, Christian Kleinerman, product management director at YouTube acknowledged that the initial implementation of T-Mobile’s program “raised questions from both users and video services, including YouTube” and that it though users needed more help understanding how the program worked.

YouTube, Kleinerman said, has agreed to join the program after T-Mobile improved “notice and choice for users,” including an easier way to toggle the service on and off (they can switch settings via an SMS short code and with two clicks from the T-Mobile app and one click from the my.tmobile.com site, for instance).

“Any user can toggle Binge On off and on, and the change will take effect within minutes -- which significantly improves the user experience,” Kleinerman noted.

YouTube has also had issues that video services weren’t given a choice whether their streams would be managed by T-Mobile if they didn’t join the program.

“Going forward, any video service meeting traffic-identification requirements will be able to opt-out, and T-Mobile will stop including them in the Binge On program and will no longer modify their video streams,” the YouTube exec said, adding that T-Mobile will also be working with video services that want to optimize their own streams using an average data rate limit.

As a result, he said, YouTube as well as Google Play Movies and TV are both participating in Binge On, meaning those streams won’t count against data caps for users who have the option enabled.

T-Mobile shed more light on these new policies, noting that video providers that want to exclude their content from Binge On need to email the company (bingeon@t-mobile.com) and “meet straightforward technical criteria” that lets T-Mobile can identify their video streams reliably.

T-Mobile also confirmed that it’s working with OTT providers to enable them to manage their own video streams. “Instead of T-Mobile’s systems optimizing video, the video provider will automatically stream a mobile-optimized video when a T-Mobile customer with Binge On activated begins streaming.” YouTube is one of the first to use this option, it said.

T-Mobile, which has steadfastly maintained that Binge On falls within the scope of the FCC’s new open Internet rules since launching it last November, also announced several new partners for the program: Baeble Music, Discovery GO, ESNE TV, FilmOn.TV, Fox Business, KlowdTV, and Red Bull TV.

The wireless services provider said more than 50 video providers are on board with Binge On, and that more than 57 million gigabits (or 57 petabytes) of data has been streamed without counting toward data caps.

Others Binge On supporters include Hulu, Netflix, Starz, HBO, Showtime, Vudu, Sling TV, A&E, Lifetime, History, PlayStation Vue, Tennis Channel Anywhere, FuboTV, Kidoodle TV, Curiosity Stream, Fandor, Newsy, ODK Media, and Lifetime Movie Club. The full list is available here.