T-Mobile’s controversial Binge On initiative filled in its biggest remaining gap for online video services on Thursday by announcing it had secured the support of YouTube for the program. This means that T-Mobile subscribers with plans that are eligible for Binge On will be able to watch as many YouTube videos as they want over T-Mobile’s mobile data network without having any of it count against their monthly data limits.
Here’s a video of T-Mobile CEO John Legere announcing the addition of YouTube to Binge On:
Binge On essentially zero rates any video traffic streamed through mobile apps that are part of the program so they don’t count against monthly data limits. All streams that are run through Binge On have their quality lowered to 480p, which means that you can’t watch shows in HD through your mobile phone. That said, given how tiny most smartphone screens are, most users don’t seem to mind the lower quality.
Although Binge On initially launched with the support of popular streaming apps such as Netflix, Hulu and HBO Now, it notably lacked support for YouTube. In a statement explaining why it decided to bring YouTube to Binge On this week, Google said that T-Mobile had sufficiently addressed its net neutrality-related concerns about the program.
“While T-Mobile has always stated that any video service can join the program at no charge, prior to our discussions, video services were not given a choice about whether their streams would be managed by T-Mobile if they did not join the program,” Google writes. “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. In addition, T-Mobile will now work with video services that wish to optimize their own streams, using an average data rate limit.”
Giving streaming apps more freedom to manage their own streams is certainly a welcome development and it does show T-Mobile is willing to be flexible to meet content providers’ concerns.