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T-Mobile's Binge On content quadruples as Apple, Disney, and more join fold

T-Mobile’s Binge On benefit, if you’re unfamiliar, grants subscribers unfettered access to streaming services that have chosen to jump on the Magenta carrier’s bandwagon — watching videos from Binge On partners YouTube and Netflix, for instance, won’t count against your data cap. It’s not without strings attached — Binge On, when enabled, downgrades video quality to 480p across the board — but it’s difficult to find fault with “free.” And it’s even harder to argue when improvements are made to the service: Today, T-Mobile announced that the Big Ten Network, Disney Jr., Fox Now, and others are joining the coterie of Binge On partner platforms.

The new Binge On inductees include ABC, Apple Music, Disney, DISH Anywhere, FOX NOW and NAT GEO TV, along with CEEK VR, D-PAN.TV, DramaFever, and Shalom World, and represent a “quadrupling” of content. With today’s additions, T-Mobile said, Binge On now plays host to more than 100 streaming services.

And it remains as popular as ever. In July, T-Mobile customers streamed more than 765 million collective hours of Binge On-eligible video (up from 500 million in June and 377 million in May), the carrier said, and a “majority” of customers now watch twice as many hours per day than they did when Binge On launched in November 2015. That’s tangible momentum that T-Mobile’s partners apparently appreciate: According to T-Mobile’s July satisfaction survey, 80 percent of Binge On partners reported “seeing customers watch longer [and] watch more frequently” on smartphones. In addition, 45 percent of services with premium offerings — i.e., paid subscriptions — “expect to sell more” because of Binge On.

“Binge On’s popularity with consumers and video providers is amazing,” said T-Mobile chief John Legere in a statement. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — it’s all about listening to your customers and doing what they want.”

Binge On has expanded rapidly in recent months. In June, it added Facebook, and just a few months prior, in March, it landed PBS, PBS Kids, and video game-streaming services Dailymotion Games and Azubu. It’s an impressively diverse lineup of services — Binge On counts anime, documentaries, concerts, sports, and user-created content among its library — and one T-Mobile is pledging to grow. “T-Mobile invites every streaming service to sign on,” it said in a statement. “Joining couldn’t be more straightforward.”

That’s despite sustained opposition from net-neutrality advocates. A Stanford University report published in January found that Binge On “limits user choice, distorts competition, stifles innovation, and harms free speech” on the web. “As long as Binge On gives special treatment to video as a class, it undermines the vision of an open internet where all applications have an equal chance of reaching audiences,” said the report, “and people, not ISPs, choose how to use bandwidth available to them.”

Partly in response to that criticism, T-Mobile began allowing Binge On partners to implement their own form of video compression earlier this year. That was enough to placate Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, who called the service “highly innovative [and] competitive.”

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