International-focused streaming service YipTV and OTT provider Dailymotion are among a block of over-the-top providers and TV networks that have signed on to T-Mobile's (NYSE:TMUS) streaming service, Binge On, setting a challenge to its primary mobile-first video streaming challenger, Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) Go90 service.
Television networks Spike, Nickelodeon, TV Land, and EPIX are available alongside Dailymotion and YipTV on the Binge On service, which offers "zero-rated" -- meaning, no charge for data used -- data to its subscribers when they watch video through the service on their smartphones.
Music streaming services including Amazon Music (NASDAQ: AMZN) and ESPN Radio also debuted on Music Freedom, T-Mobile's offering that similarly zero-rates online music services, joining Apple Music (NASDAQ: AAPL), Google Music (NASDAQ: GOOG), Pandora, Rhapsody and Spotify as listening options.
The move could have particularly good growth prospects for YipTV, which offers more than 100 international television channels to U.S.-based viewers looking for content from their original countries. In an interview with FierceOnlineVideo last year, CEO Mike Tribolet said that a majority of YipTV's subscribers primarily access its content via smartphones, particularly Android devices.
"(T)his community predominantly is on Android. They're looking for free apps. They have the free games," Tribolet said. "So this is the information that becomes critical to help cross segment to get them to actually convert."
Being able to stream YipTV channels without a data penalty should be a big attractor for potential new subscribers. Further, the move onto T-Mobile's Binge On lineup is in line with YipTV's strategy to get in front of as many potential viewers as possible by partnering with other companies, such as TiVo or smart TV manufacturers. Tribolet said that YipTV's platform gives it a great deal of flexibility as it "allows us to integrate with our partners for delivery and it ties into our billing system."
Dailymotion, perhaps better known in the U.S. as YouTube's international counterpart for user-generated online video, has a chance to gain viewership by adding its presence to Binge On. The OTT service has long trailed YouTube in terms of viewers, recording about 300 million worldwide in 2014. Jumping aboard T-Mobile's service could give it a boost in users -- YouTube only just agreed to participate in the service.
One sticking point in the burgeoning mobile-first streaming market is the controversy surrounding zero-rated data and its connection to services like Binge On, Go90 and AT&T's (NYSE: T) planned OTT service. Stanford law professor Barbara van Schewick said in January that Binge On may violate the FCC's net neutrality rules in at least a half-dozen ways, including constraining consumer choice. The FCC is currently monitoring the zero-rated data situation.
At any rate, content providers are clearly hoping to cash in on a growing new business model that keeps OTT video in front of consumers. For YipTV, whose founders include several Vonage veterans, it's a familiar feeling.
"We see a lot of the same parallels here [to VoIP's early days]," Tribolet said in September. "It's a very explosive market. There's cracks in the foundation. There's no winners, [and] there's no loser right now; it's a matter of going after your customers."
- see the T-Mobile announcement
- see this release
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