Even if Indian regulators will not allow zero rating of mobile applications, and even if mobile operators might prefer not to zero rate video apps, there is some early evidence from the T-Mobile US “Binge On” program that zero rating video entertainment boosts end user engagement substantially.
One video provider on the Binge On program has seen the number of active viewers spike 90 percent, while watch-times nearly tripled from customers with limited high-speed data plans, T-Mobile US says.
That last point is probably significant. It might well be that the customers with the most-limited mobile data plans, which presumably includes many lower-income customers especially, have benefitted the most from zero rating of entertainment services on the T-Mobile US network.
One might also argue that by offering zero rating of video, T-Mobile US also has managed to create distinctiveness for its own services, something hard to achieve.
By zero rating Binge On video, T-Mobile US has removed a barrier to use of streaming apps and watching video from a mobile device connected to the mobile network. That arguably helps it attract more customers.
Freedom from data usage charges also encourages customers to use video streaming apps (granted, in a bandwidth-challenged environment, mobile operators might not want to encourage such usage).
But the resulting boost in usage–especially by consumers who arguably are lower income customers, is not surprising, and illustrates end user value from such programs.
T-Mobile US says Binge On partners supply about 70 percent of all video T-Mobile US customers watch on their phones and tablets each month.
Arguably, the new plan has encouraged customers to watch twice as much video each day, in longer and more frequent viewing sessions, than they did before the launch of Binge On.