T-Mobile TVision streams live TV channels starting at $10 per month
The wireless carrier's new TV service, exclusive to T-Mobile subscribers until 2021, looks to take on YouTube TV, Hulu and Sling TV.
Eli BlumenthalSenior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Expertise5G, mobile networks, wireless carriers, phones, tablets, streaming devices, streaming platforms, mobile and console gaming,
The original TVision service, which launched in April 2019, was similar to cable, complete with the need for a dedicated box and a $90 starting price. The revamped TVision, available to T-Mobile subscribers starting Nov. 1 and to everyone else in 2021, more closely resembles its streaming competitors. It runs on an app available on numerous TV and mobile devices -- no box required -- and the monthly fees are much lower than cable.
The cheapest package, TVision Vibe, costs just $10 per month. It's entertainment-focused, with 30 channels including AMC, BET, Comedy Central, Food Network, MTV and Nickelodeon, but no sports, news or local channels. To get those you'll have to subscribe to one of the TVision Live step-up packages. The most affordable costs $40 per month and has over 30 channels, including local broadcasters ABC, NBC and Fox in certain markets, as well as cable mainstays CNBC, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ESPN, FS1, TBS, TNT and USA.
T-Mobile says it will have local NBC affiliates in every market and "either the local ABC and/or Fox affiliates or the national feeds from ABC and Fox" if the ABC and Fox affiliates aren't available.
Fans looking for the NFL Network, college conference-focused ACC, Big Ten or SEC Network or a variety of NBC regional sports options (as well as FXM, TCM and Nat Geo Wild) can get the $50 per month Live TV Plus option. The top tier, called Live Zone, adds channels such as NFL RedZone, Boomerang, ESPN Deportes and Fox Deportes and runs $60 per month.
Starz, Showtime and Epix are available as add-ons (or what it calls Channels), though CBS is not included in any of the plans. (Editor's note: ViacomCBS is CNET's parent company.) Regional Fox Sports channels owned by Sinclair are also not available.
T-Mobile includes 100 hours of cloud DVR storage with the TVision plans that cost $40 and up. Those on Vibe or who subscribe to just the add-ons can get 100 hours of DVR for $5 per month.
Charges such as regional sports fees are included in the sticker price, though you will still be on the hook for any state and local taxes.
As an incentive to get people to sign up before the end of the year, T-Mobile is offering those who subscribe to Live TV Plus or Live Zone a free one-year subscription to Apple TV Plus. T-Mobile is also offering the ability to get an Apple TV 4K for $99, a savings of $80 from its regular $179 price.
Watch on mobile and TV devices, but no Roku at launch
There is, however, no support for Roku, game consoles, Chromecast or AirPlay at launch. T-Mobile told CNET that development efforts are underway for Roku and game consoles but would not specify when additional devices or platforms would be supported.
T-Mobile will also be selling its own $50 TVision Hub streamer that directly integrates the service. The Hub runs Android TV (rather than the new Google TV software), can stream apps like Netflix in 4K HDR and ties in directly with Google Assistant for easier search and control of the TVision service. It has a number pad, too, for tuning to channels by number. The Hub can also be used to download and stream other apps from the Google Play Store, including HBO Max, which is owned by T-Mobile's wireless rival AT&T. Gaming services such as Google's Stadia and Microsoft's Xbox cloud gaming are coming in 2021 with Nvidia's GeForce Now available at launch.
T-Mobile recommends download speeds of at least 15 Mbps (or 5 megabits per second per stream) for watching TVision and no longer requires that you have particular internet providers to use the new service. Unlike the current TVision, however, none of the service's channels will stream in 4K and you can only stream on up to three devices at once for TVision Live, with up to two concurrent streams available for the TVision Vibe.
The company will be making the new streaming service available first to postpaid T-Mobile wireless users, those who pay their wireless bills at the end of the month, with postpaid Sprint users set to be able to get it later in the month. T-Mobile plans to make the service available to everyone, including those who don't get wireless service from the carrier and those who have prepaid service, next year.