What T-Mobile’s TVision Needs to Succeed


UPDATE: 11/2 - If you get TVision Live and Vibe, you don't need the $5 DVR add-on, and you can fast forward commercials on live.

Let me just start out by saying I’ve been a happy T-Mobile wireless customer since 2016. If T-Mobile Home Internet were available in my area, I’d subscribe to that too, so it only makes sense that I’d want to get TVision, T-Mobile’s new cable alternative service.

TVision was first unveiled a year ago as a more traditional cable service, where a cable box was required and the price was $90 a month - ouch. Luckily, T-Mobile learned from AT&T TV and realized people don’t want that form of cable anymore.

A few days ago, T-Mobile announced TVision would release as a no-contract service available through an app, with plans as low as $10 a month - wow! But there are a few things to note:
  • That $10 plan called TVision Vibe only includes entertainment channels with no sports and news, like Philo. You’ll get channels like Discovery, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, and so on. No DVR unless you pay $5 extra.
  • The next plan under TVision Live is $40 titled Live TV and gives you some sports, news, and more entertainment. You’ll get CNN, TBS, ESPN, FX, and so on. The $50 plant titled Live TV+ gives you more sports and entertainment channels, and the $60 Live Zone plan give you even more sports. DVR is included with the TVision Live channels.
  • TVision Channels are the premium offerings, like Epix, Showtime, and Starz.
  • TVision Vibe, Live, and Channels can all be added together. I’m not 100% sure if you combine Vibe and Live if you’ll need the $5 DVR to record the Vibe channels even though DVR comes with Live, but keep that in mind.
  • Also, no CBS, CW, Ion, MyNetworkTV, PBS, or the other local subchannels.
  • Something interesting, TVision is the only online cable service that numbers their channels, so if you have a remote with a number pad, you can easily find the channel.
  • It’s also one of the few to offer its own streaming device with shortcuts for TVision functions on the remote for users looking for a cable-like experience.
TVision stands out with Sling as the only other live TV service to offer packages that customers can choose to make their cable bill cheaper. When you compare the service to YouTube TV with the same channels added, you’ll be adding the $50 Live package with the $10 Vibe package (plus if you need the DVR for the Vibe channels, $5 more dollars), it ends up costing the same. For TVision to be priced with YouTube TV, it’s going to need a few things to be successful:
  • Easier Packaging: Trying to explain TVision’s package tiers is ridiculously confusing. When I first heard of the service, I thought the Vibe package was just on-demand versions of the channels, since the other package is called Live. No, they’re all live. And TVision Channels is what they’re calling the premium offerings, not TVision Premium? Not to mention you have to pay for cloud DVR for the Vibe channels, but the Live channels have DVR included, but if you combine the Vibe and Live channels, do you still need to pay for the $5 cloud DVR for the Vibe channels? It’s all extremely confusing and there’s little information about it on the TVision website.
  • Pause, rewind, and fast forward live TV: Other services offer pause and rewind on live, but few offer fast forward through commercials like YouTube TV does. TVision is definitely going to need that.
  • Better Features and Quality: Sling offers 60 FPS on select channels, but the rest aren't the highest quality streams. If TVision picked up where PSVue left off with the better quality stream and maybe offered features not found elsewhere, like picture-in-picture or more in-depth sports information, then TVision would have a way to stand out.
  • Transparency: YouTube TV's price hike in June left many users upset. Price increases are an inevitability in this industry, but if TVision offers better transparency on the cost of live TV, it would earn the trust of the consumer.
TVision certainly looks promising. I like that the channels are numbered, and the interface looks smooth. However, most consumers are ditching live TV due to the price, and TVision, when optioned with the packages most people would want, may be too pricey. 

Sling is able to offer a lower price because they don't offer local channels. By encouraging users to use Locast or to get an antenna and consider their AirTV solution, Sling can offer a lower cost service. However, Sling is far from the best service with the worst DVR, a clunky interface, and lower quality streams especially on AirTV channels. If TVision can offer a YouTube TV-like experience for less, then it I would consider cutting Sling for TVision, but not until I see more concrete reviews on the service.

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