After years of anticipation, T-Mobile is finally getting into the live TV business with the launch of a new internet-based streaming service called TVision, launching on November 1st.
To be clear: TVision isn’t using the fiber-optic-based IPTV technology that it acquired alongside Layer3 back in 2017. It’s a traditional over-the-top streaming service that simply streams live television over the internet, just like YouTube TV, Hulu’s live TV service, Fubo TV, Sling TV, or (in perhaps the closest analogy) AT&T TV. But what sets TVision apart is its pricing, which aims to offer lower costs and more flexibility than its competitors.
Think of it as a T-Mobile’s take on YouTube TV or Sling
To that end, TVision is broken up into a few different products. There’s the $40-per-month TVision Live, which offers the most traditional cable TV line. It’s focused largely on providing news and sports, including channels like ABC, NBC, and Fox (although notably, not CBS), news networks like CNBC, CNN, ABC News, and Fox News, along with sports-focused channels like FS1, FS2, ESPN, and NBC Sports. Additionally, TVision Live includes general cable fare like the Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, SyFy, TBS, TNT, USA, and Bravo.
There are also two additional tiers of TVision Live: the $50 Live TV Plus, which adds additional sports channels (including the Big Ten Network, ESPNU, NFL Network, and regional NBC sports channels), and the $60 Live Zone, which adds a few additional channels but whose main draw is NFL RedZone.
All three TVision Live plans also include a cloud-based DVR, which stores up to 100 hours of recordings (and, unlike some streaming services, those recordings are direct from the live TV feed — not on-demand content). TVision Live supports up to three concurrent streams, which means that you’ll be able to share an account with family members, too.
But TVision Live is just a part of TVision. There’s also TVision Vibe — which, at $10 per month for over 30 live channels from AMC, Discovery, and Viacom — might be the most interesting part of T-Mobile’s TV strategy. Channels here include AMC, BBC America, BET, Food Network, HGTV, the Hallmark Channel, MTV, TLC, Comedy Central, and Discovery.
There are a few more limitations here: TVision Vibe only supports up to two concurrent streams, and DVR access costs an extra $5 per month on top of the initial $10 subscription. But if you’re interested in the channels it offers, it’s among the cheapest live TV packages around.
Lastly, there’s TVision Channels, which offers standalone subscriptions to Starz ($8.99 per month), Showtime ($10.99 per month), and Epix ($5.99 per month).
T-Mobile’s TVision services can also be combined. For example, you can subscribe to both TVision Live for a basic set of channels and then add TVision Vibe on top for those additional entertainment-focused channels — just like regular cable.
Those prices certainly impressive, but other TV services, like Fubo or YouTube TV, have offered similarly low prices at their launches, too, only to raise prices considerably as content licensing costs have gone up. It’s not clear yet whether TVision’s various services will manage to avoid a similar fate in the future, despite T-Mobile’s usual rhetoric about offering a different sort of service than its competitors.
There are more streaming choices than ever — why are prices going up?
TVision will be available on a variety of platforms, including iOS, Android, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire, and Google TV. (Notably absent on that list is Roku, which won’t be available, at least at launch, or any way to watch on a computer.) T-Mobile is also offering the $50 TVision Hub, a 4K Android TV dongle that’s been customized to offer a more integrated TVision experience.
To start, TVision will be available just to T-Mobile postpaid wireless customers starting on November 1st. Sprint customers will get access later in November, with the service opening up to all customers sometime in 2021.