tmobileImagine that about 24 months ago that T-Mobile US was rumored to be up for sale. Since that time T-Mobile has become one of the most disruptive forces in mobile video delivery industry. Not stopping there, the “Un-carrier” just announced last week that they are expanding the Binge On service for the 6th time in 7 months to 90 content partners.

In the seven months since it launched, T-Mobile’s Binge On has fundamentally changed the way T-Mobile customers watch videos—and is one of the Un-carrier’s most popular initiatives of all time, if not the most popular.

T-Mobile customers are video streaming more than ever:

  • Customers are watching twice as many hours per day, in longer and more frequent viewing sessions, than before launch from free streaming services on qualifying plans with limited high-speed data.
  • More than 57 million GB (57 petabytes) have been streamed without burning up customers’ high-speed data. That’s like watching Adele’s 15 minute Carpool Karaoke with James Corden more than 460 million times.
  • Un-carrier customers have already streamed more than half a billion hours of video or the equivalent of more than 57,000 years of video without using their high-speed data since Binge On launched.

One video of the content providers has seen the number of active viewers spike 90% and watch-times nearly triple from customers with limited high-speed data.

T-Mobile’s zero-rating represents one of numerous pricing mechanisms by which operators encourage video consumption on mobile networks. Traditionally, mobile video services have been prohibitively expensive for consumers, especially compared to video viewing on TVs or on fixed broadband. However, operators around the world are starting to actively make mobile video delivery more affordable to end-users.

“Mobile devices have redefined the way we live our lives and online video is in the midst of that redefinition. For example, YouTube has seen a 100 percent growth in watch-time on mobile devices vs. last year. Driven by consumer momentum, I expect mobile video to dominate the video conversation in 2016.” – Cenk Bulbul, Google Head of Agency Marketing

Customers are in control. Not T-Mobile. Not content providers,” John Legere says. But T-Mobile controls the default settings, which have an inevitable power, because most people don’t notice or change defaults. Yes, you can turn Binge On off, but most less-technical people live with default settings; that’s why search engines work so hard to become the default home pages of browser makers, for instance. The only group with no power here are the non-partner content providers. That’s far from what Legere calls a “pro net neutrality capability.” It’s a system that shifts power over content quality from the video providers to T-Mobile.

The Problem for Mobile Operators… Managing Mobile Video is not Easy

Slide1dfsdNew mobile devices are emerging every day, from tablets and smartphones to smart cars. Each device can have a different screen resolutions, processing power, amount of memory, what network it is accessing from 3G/4G/or Wi-Fi enabled, what content can receive they receive (DRM), security, and so much more. With these new devices also come new OTT video applications and services, and widely varying traffic patterns. Much of the video traffic is encrypted so a determination of how the video traffic is to be delivered (resolution, quality, network) can be difficult to figure out.

According to the Cisco Mobile Visual Networking Index (VNI) data traffic has grown 4,000-fold over the past 10 years and almost 400-million-fold over the past 15 years. Global mobile data traffic reached 3.7 exabytes per month at the end of 2015, with Mobile Video accounting for 55% growing to 75% of mobile traffic by 2020. (One exabyte is equivalent to one billion gigabytes)

The Opportunity, a Piece of the Content Consumption Pie

Consumers are set to spend $180 billion on digital content next year, a new report by market analysts Juniper Research says. That represents a jump of almost a third (30 per cent) compared to last year, when the figure was at $140 billion.

Juniper’s researchers believe this jump will be fuelled mostly by the continuing migration to video streaming services. What’s more, telecom operators and broadcasters are also looking into creating their own on-demand and IPTV content, as means of competing with over-the-top businesses.

So what else can a Mobile Operator do to Manage Mobile Video and Make Money at It?

Attend our June 28th Cisco Knowledge Network Session at 11:00am ET entitled, “How Does a Mobile Operator Manage Video Traffic and Make Money at It?” register at here.

For more details download and read our white paper “A New Approach for Mobile Video Services

Read the latest Cisco Visual Networking Index.

And watch this space for a series of blogs on Mobile Video.


Jim O'Leary

Sr. Manager Mobile Solutions Marketing