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T-Mobile announces surprise TV shutdown, partners with Google

T-Mobile has confirmed that it is to wind down its live TV service in the US in favour of an expanded partnership with Google.

The operator will shut down its Live, Live+ and Live Zone services on April 29, and instead offer customers discounted access to YouTube TV – Google’s cord-cutting live TV offer. TVision Live subscribers will be given a free month of YouTube TV and subsequently offered a discounted price of US$54.99 per month (]US$10 below the regular price).

T-Mobile also said that it plans to reinforce investment in the Android ecosystem by “showcasing the wide range of Android devices available, including the full suite of Pixel devices, Android TV OS devices and more.”

In addition, T-Mobile will make Google’s Messages app the default messaging experience on Android devices sold by the operator while it will also look to Google to help it expand its 5G network.

Hiroshi Lockheimer, SVP of Platforms and Ecosystems at Google, said: “This is a win for Android users and an even greater win for the Android ecosystem. T-Mobile and Google have been working together to champion Android since the very beginning with the launch of the T-Mobile G1 in 2008. We’re taking what has already been a long and very successful relationship, and building on it to bring Android customers even more features and services.”

Mike Sievert, CEO of T-Mobile, said: “We’re building on our decade-long relationship with Google to give customers an even better experience with the world’s very best products and services offered by Android, Pixel and YouTube. The world’s most popular smartphone platform with Android, a broad range of premium Pixel devices, an upgraded, modern messaging experience on Android and a robust entertainment offering with YouTube TV — it’s the best of Google, combined with the nation’s largest and fastest 5G network on T-Mobile.”

The shutdown comes as a major shock, with the operator only entering into the TV arena in October 2020. Following the announcement Sievert published a blog post acknowledging that “this shift may surprise some” but argued that “innovation seldom follows a straight line”and that it the operator has “learned a lot about the TV industry and streaming products.”

He added: “With our TV software provider encountering some financial challenges and with our broader, strategic partnerships with Google and Philo, we saw an opportunity to deliver unique value to our customers and strengthen the TVision initiative with the best partners.”