The Federal Communications Commission had a particularly busy week, but T-Mobile has to take the cake for the biggest story of the week – even if it’s one that its customers aren’t going to be thrilled about.
As always, there was a lot going on in the world of cord cutting. But that’s why The Recap exists, to catch you up on the biggest stories and why you should care about them.
Here’s what you need to know from this past week.
T-Mobile’s Forced Migration
T-Mobile subscribers on older phone plans beware: The carrier is looking to move you to one of its newer, more expensive plans.
A series of documents detailing the migration – as well as well as how customer care should handle the expected surge of angry calls – leaked on Reddit, and were later confirmed by The Mobile Report and Cord Cutters News. On average, users can expect to pay $10 more per line, per month.
The good news is that customers will be able to call and insist on opting out of the migration – even if it means listening to a sales pitch from customer care. You’ll have to wait for T-Mobile to notify you about the change before making the call.
For a company that prides itself on being transparent, T-Mobile is taking a decidedly un-un-carrier approach with this forced migration.
Getting Paid for a Blackout?
The Federal Communications Commission presented a plan that’s likely to prove popular with consumers: requiring cable TV operators like Spectrum or DIRECTV to automatically provide a rebate or credits to its subscribers in the event of a blackout that stems from the failure to reach a distribution agreement.
We saw that this summer with a dispute between Spectrum and Disney, which lasted around two weeks, and between DIRECTV and Nexstar, which lasted a whopping three months.
Sometimes the cable TV provider, like Spectrum, will take the initiative to offer credits. But other times, there are hoops to jump through, like calling customer service. The FCC proposal – which is still in early stages – would make it something you wouldn’t have to worry about, as it would automatically be given to you.
Unsurprisingly, representatives for the cable TV industry aren’t happy, arguing this gives them less leverage when negotiating with media companies or local broadcasters.
Broadband Nutrition Label
As mentioned, the FCC was busy this week. In addition to the blackout proposal, it set a deadline for when broadband “nutrition” labels must be offered to consumers. The labels, which are simple and patterned after the ones seen on food, break down the fine print on the cost and speed of their services. That includes little things like data caps or throttling thresholds.
You can check out what they look like here.
Like the eager overachiever in class, Google presented its label on Thursday, even though the earliest deadline isn’t until April 10, 2024.
Disney Merging Disney+ and Hulu Sooner Than You Think
Disney is reportedly merging two of its subscription streaming services, Disney+ and Hulu, into a single app, according to The Wall Street Journal. In addition, Disney is looking to roll out a new bundle offer, presumably to take advantage of the merged services, some time in March of next year.
It’s a big shakeup for the services, and it remains to be seen if a bundle between the two would be worth it for consumers who are increasingly looking at the number of subscriptions they already have.
Sling Freestream Considering Changes
Sling Freestream, the free, ad-supported version of its core subscription service, is hinting at some changes to its service.
Cord Cutters News reviewed a survey sent out to users that suggests some possible changes. The additions include the possibility of a free DVR with 10 hours of storage in exchange for signing up for a free account, as well as the addition of pay-per-view and “premium events,” although it’s unclear what constitutes a premium event.
As this came from a survey, there’s no telling if we’ll actually see these changes, and Sling TV told Cord Cutters News that it is always looking for ways to improve through user feedback.
Just as long as Sling doesn’t forcibly move folks onto a pay service.