T-Mobile launches cable TV killer starting at $10 a month

T-Mobile TVision
(Image credit: T-Mobile)

Are you ready for yet another streaming service? T-Mobile is betting that your are, and it thinks the same Uncarrier approach that upended wireless phone service can do the same to cable TV prvoiders.

To that end, T-Mobile is launching TVision, a subscription streaming service that promises the channels you want at a lower cost than cable TV. It sounds an awful lot like services such as Sling, Hulu and YouTube TV, which also provide live streaming TV for a monthly fee. But T-Mobile insists its approach is more stripped down and delivers live news and sports for a lower cost.

If TVision sounds familiar, that's because T-Mobile launched an identically named service last year that delivered TV over brodband to select markets at a price that wasn't all that different from what cable operators charged. We haven't heard much about that offering since its April 2019 launch, so suffice it to say, T-Mobile has gone back to the drawing board to make this version of TVision more focused on streaming to multiple devices.

Here's what's new with TVision and what subscribers can expect?

T-Mobile TVision prices, packages

As outlined by T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert during a streaming event today (Oct. 27), TVision is actually made up of four different tiers. 

TVision Live TV starts at $40 a month and features 30-plus channels with a focus on live news and sports. The package includes the likes of CNN, Fox News, ESPN, FS1, MSNBC and others.

The $50 Live TV Plus package adds an extra 10 channels, largely focused on sports. The $60 TVision Live Zone package adds 10 more channels to the mix including NFL Red Zone.

TVision Vibe is T-Mobile's cheaper package. At $10 a month, it offers 30-plus basic cable channels that focus on entertainment. Think Hallmark, HGTV, AMC, TLC and more.

In an interview with Cnet, Sievert said those prices would only be available to T-Mobile customers, suggesting higher prices if you come to TVision while getting your cell phone service from another wireless carrier. Of course, TVision will be limited to T-Mobile customers initially, as we'll discuss below.

T-Mobile TVision

(Image credit: T-Mobile)

There's also TVision Channels, T-Mobile's take on services like Apple TV Channel and Amazon Prime Channels. With TVision Channels, you'll be able to house all the a la carte streaming services you subscribe to in one place, paying a single bill. TVision Channels starts with Epix, Showtime and Starz initially.

T-Mobile TVision simultaneous streams

It depends on which service you subscribe to. TVision Live features three simultaneous streams, while also offering a cloud DVR feature that lets you record up to 100 hours of programming.

On TVision Vibe, you'll get two simultaneous streams. The service also features on-demand programming.

T-Mobile TVision supported devices

T-Mobile is launching TVision nationwide across both mobile and set-top boxes. You'll be able to download the TVision app from Google Play and Apple's iOS App Store to watch on phones or tablets. TVision will also be available through Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV or Google TV devices.

Yes, Roku is not on the list, which is familiar for anyone who wants HBO Max on Roku.

What if I don't have any of those devices?

T-Mobile is selling a $50 TVision Hub, a set-top box that uses Android TV as its interface. The box connects to your TV via HDMI and there's a remote control that comes with dedicated Netflix and YouTube buttons when you want to switch over to those services. You can use an on-screen guide to find programming or tap into Google Assistant for voice-controlled searches.

T-Mobile TVision - TVision Hub remote

(Image credit: T-Mobile)

Do I have to subscribe to T-Mobile to get TVision?

Initially, yes. TVision launches on Sunday (Nov. 1), with T-Mobile postpaid customers getting first crack at the service. Legacy Sprint customers who are now part of T-Mobile after those two carriers merged earlier this year will be able to get TVision on Nov. 13.

T-Mobile says that it plans to roll out the service to its prepaid customers as well as people who don't get their wireless service from T-Mobile next year. You can sign up at the TVision website to find out when you'll have access to TVision.

T-Mobile TVision

(Image credit: T-Mobile)

T-Mobile TVision deals

If you get TVision prior to Dec. 31, T-Mobile will include a year's subscription to Apple TV Plus, the streaming service from Apple that features a slate of original programming. TVision customers will also be able to buy an Apple TV 4K device for $99 — an $80 discount off the 32GB version of the set-top box.

T-Mobile TVision vs YouTube TV vs Sling vs Hulu Live TV vs Fubo

There's really not that much separating T-Mobile's TV vision from the likes of Sling, Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV and Fubo.TV. T-Mobile is obviously hoping to compete on price, particularly with its $10-a-month TVision Vibe offering. But customers looking for live news and sports can get one of Sling's packages starting at $30 a month, which is cheaper than TVision Live TV's starting price.

The other services cost much more than TVision, and Sievert pointed that many of them have raised prices within the last year. But like Tvision, those services started out charging much less for streaming TV, only to add channels and cost that made them look increasingly like the cable providers they're hoping to disrupt. It's a trap that T-Mobile will need to avoid if TVision is going to challenge both cable and streaming services.

T-Mobile TVision outlook

TVision won't be T-Mobile's last word on branching out beyond wireless service. At the end of the TVision rollout, Sievert alluded to T-Mobile's plans to launch 5G home internet service, challenging another part of the cable TV operator bundle. There's no time frame on when that might happen, beyond the pilot program T-Mobile current offers to select customers. During the regulatory review of its merger with Sprint, T-Mobile announced plans to offer high-speed wireless broadband to 90% of the country by 2024.

T-Mobile TVision channels

The below chart breaks down the channels in the main three TVision packages. This is based on TVision's channel lineup guide, and you'll notice TVision Vibe has some channels — such as AMC and MTV — that the pricier packages don't have listed. That may be a typo, though, as it doesn't make much sense.

The $60 TVision Live Zone package throws in CNBC World, Longhorn Network, MavTV, NFL RedZone, Outside TV, Boomerang, Universal Kids and Universo. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
TVision Vibe ($10 per month)TVision Live TV ($40 per month)TVision Live TV+ ($50 per month)
Animal PlanetFOXFOX
Comedy CentralNBC Sports NetworkNBC Sports Network
Discovery ChannelABC News LiveABC News Live
Food NetworkFox BusinessFox Business
Hallmark ChannelFox NewsFox News
Hallmark DramaHLNHLN
Hallmark Movies and MysteriesMSNBCMSNBC
HGTVNBC News NowNBC News Now
Investigation DiscoveryCoziCozi
MTV2National GeographicNational Geographic
Nickelodeon EastOxygenOxygen
Nickelodeon WestSyfySyfy
Paramount NetworkCartoon NetworkCartoon Network
SundanceTVDisney ChannelDisney Channel
TLCDisney JrDisney Jr
Travel ChannelDisney XDDisney XD
TV LandFreeformFreeform
VH1Row 32 - Cell 1 ACCN ESPN
WE tvRow 33 - Cell 1 Big Ten Networks
Row 34 - Cell 0 Row 34 - Cell 1 ESPN College Extra
Row 35 - Cell 0 Row 35 - Cell 1 ESPNews
Row 36 - Cell 0 Row 36 - Cell 1 ESPNU
Row 37 - Cell 0 Row 37 - Cell 1 Golf Channel
Row 38 - Cell 0 Row 38 - Cell 1 NFL Network
Row 39 - Cell 0 Row 39 - Cell 1 SEC Network
Row 40 - Cell 0 Row 40 - Cell 1 Olympic Channel
Row 41 - Cell 0 Row 41 - Cell 1 FXM
Row 42 - Cell 0 Row 42 - Cell 1 Nat Geo Wild
Row 43 - Cell 0 Row 43 - Cell 1 TCM
Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.