Will consumers stream more live TV on mobile devices if they don't have to worry about data usage?

With go90, Verizon is making it easier for consumers to stream live TV. The app is free, and Verizon customers get 2 GB extra per month to try it. The company it seems hopes to pay for carrier costs through advertising, and, less overtly, by driving up customer data usage, which will necessitate more expensive plans.

But what if consumers don't have to worry about data usage when streaming live TV – will they stream more?

Dish’s Sling TV thinks so, and yesterday announced a partnership with T-Mobile that will allow T-Mobile customers to stream Sling TV content (subscription required) with no impact on customer data plans.

The partnership, dubbed “Binge On,” was announced a day after Dish’s Q3 earnings call. On the call, Charlie Ergen, Dish’s CEO deemed linear TV “a mature, declining business.”

If only the decline weren’t so rapid.

Craig Moffett, a senior research analyst with MoffettNathanson, estimated that while Sling TV has a total of 394,000 paying customers, its core satellite business - which generates more revenue - lost 178,000 subscribers (much worse than the 12,000 subscribers it lost only a year ago).

“Binge On” will certainly make the subset of T-Mobile customers with Sling TV happy, but this subset is likely very small. Dish is hoping that T-Mobile subscribers without Sling TV will sign up by the thousands – rather, the hundreds of thousands – to help it achieve a main quarterly goal moving forward: the number of new Sling TV subscribers outpacing the loss of Dish satellite subscribers.

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