YouTube is perhaps the biggest missing piece from T-Mobile’s Binge On free video streaming service, and we’ve heard before that T-Mo is working with Google on getting YouTube adding to Binge On’s free video streaming. However, now it sounds like getting YouTube into Binge On may be more difficult.
YouTube today expressed unhappiness with T-Mobile’s Binge On service, tell the Wall Street Journal that T-Mo is throttling its service. “Reducing data charges can be good for users, but it doesn’t justify throttling all video services, especially without explicit user consent,” a YouTube spokesman told the WSJ. YouTube went on to say that T-Mo is lowering the video quality of video that isn’t being streamed from one of the 24 services included in free Binge On streaming.
In response, a T-Mo spokesperson said that Magenta customers “love having free streaming video that never hits their data bucket” and enjoy “both the quality of their video experience and the complete control they have.” T-Mo went on to say that Binge On is in line with FCC regulations, can be turned off at any time by customers, and that any video provider can join by meeting some basic technical requirements.
While the highlight feature of Binge On is its free video streaming from 24 video services, it also optimizes “almost all other video streaming” to help users save data. This is likely what YouTube is unhappy about, as customers must opt out of the video optimizations, and not everyone realizes this. The video optimizations end up “throttling” the videos, resulting in a lower quality video being played to the user, and some folks may not know why the lower quality video is playing.
Back in November, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler didn’t seem to think that Binge On caused any issues, describing it as “highly innovative and highly competitive.” Earlier this month, though, the FCC asked to meet with T-Mobile to discuss Binge On and the concerns that the service “has harmed some users.” While the FCC hasn’t commented on YouTube’s complaint, it’s not going to help T-Mobile and Binge On heading into the FCC meeting. While Binge On can indeed save data for customers by streaming video free from 24 services and optimizing streams from others, it seems that the fact that all customers must opt out of Binge On to avoid video optimizations could end up harming T-Mobile.
T-Mobile has been asked to meet with the FCC regarding Binge On by January 15, so we may hear more about this whole situation sometime in the next couple of weeks. Until then, what do you think of Binge On? Are you happy with the service or are you frustrated with the optimizations that it makes to video?