T-Mobile informed TVision subscribers they will be receiving 30+ channels, normally part of the Vibe plan, for free.
At the end of October, T-Mobile unveiled its TVision streaming service, designed to compete with the likes of YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, Sling and fuboTV. The company unveiled four packages, including Vibe, Live TV, Live TV+ and Live Zone.
The Vibe plan, in particular, was seen as a high-value option, providing 30+ entertainment and lifestyle channels for just $10. It was a good option for customers who were not interested in local channels or sports. Now, T-Mobile is giving away the Vibe plan for free to customers that have one of the TVision Live subscriptions.
Behind the scenes, industry experts say the promotion is a result of the legal issues and carriage disputes T-Mobile is facing over TVision. Despite the cable TV industry being one of the most hated industries in America, media companies continue to hold to the very business practices that made them so hated.
One of those practices is channel stuffing, requiring certain packages to contain certain channels, and then forcing customers to pay for channels they don’t want. T-Mobile’s willingness to separate their channel lineup in a way that allowed customers to choose what they wanted to pay for was one of its big selling points.
According to Variety, however, T-Mobile has had to make adjustments to prevent legal action from the media companies. For example, many media companies specify that any of their channels included in a cheaper tier must also be included in more expensive tiers. While T-Mobile viewed their Vibe plan as a standalone option, the media companies are clearly viewing it as the entry-level tier. As a result, because it has channels not included in any TVision Live plans, the media companies are crying foul.
To T-Mobile’s credit—in the same week that Hulu and DirecTV announced price hikes—the company’s solution is simply to include the 30+ Vibe channels for free in the more expensive TVision Live plans. While the company has portrayed it as a limited-time holiday event, given its Un-carrier reputation, it’s hard to imagine T-Mobile will do anything that will be a burden to customers on the other side of its holiday deal.
From the outset, CEO Mike Sievert characterized TVision as a loss-leader to help drive more customers to its cellular and home internet options. Hopefully the company’s holiday deal will become a permanent option, or replaced by some equally value-driven option.