YouTube joins Binge On, the T-Mobile offering it had opposed

T-Mobile’s Binge On, the controversial offering that exempts some video streaming from customers’ data caps, just bagged a big get. YouTube, the Google-owned video service that had complained that Binge On was throttling its video, is now on board.

To hear T-Mobile CEO John Legere tell it, “the facts are clear – Binge On is a runaway hit, and adding these services is just huge!” That’s according to a T-Mobile press release today, which points out that the Binge On offering, introduced in November, now includes 70 percent of all video that customers watch on their mobile devices, including content from Netflix, Hulu, and now YouTube and Google Play and other providers.

But before Google and T-Mobile kissed and made up, there was some drama — it even got the always-quotable Legere in some hot water.

YouTube complained that its videos were being throttled for customers who were using Binge On; the Electonic Frontier Foundation, an Internet rights group, did its own tests and found that all videos were being throttled, regardless of whether their providers had agreed to be part of the Binge On program; and Legere used some colorful language on Twitter and in a video to question the EFF’s findings and motives. He got some flak on social media for that.

But that’s all video under the bridge, apparently.

Today, Google said in a blog post that changes T-Mobile made to its Binge On policies, including allowing video providers to control how their own content is streamed, persuaded YouTube and Google Play Movies & TV  to join the program. In addition, Google said it likes that T-Mobile has made it easier to turn off Binge On, and for video providers to opt out of the program if they don’t want to participate.

“We think these changes, which T-Mobile is making for all users and video providers on a non-preferential basis, can help ensure that the program works well for all users and the entire video ecosystem,” Google said in the post.

T-Mobile’s Binge On offering is one of several zero-rating services that the FCC is said to be looking at in net neutrality terms, so it’ll be interesting to see whether the changes T-Mobile made also satisfies the Federal Communications Commission. Net neutrality rules call for no preferential treatment of traffic.


Photo: A customer exits a T-Mobile store in Glendale, Calif., in 2014. T-Mobile has added more video providers to its Binge On service. (AFP/Getty Images)


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