Three launches free “Go Binge” streaming on new Advanced plans, but will this spell the end of truly unlimited data?

I had to think long and hard about how to report this news, as clearly Three is thrilled to be offering free video streaming to users on its new Advanced Plans – starting at 4GB and above.

On the face of it, that’s great. Pay for a small amount of data, relatively speaking, and enjoy unlimited, zero-rated, access to video.

But, where does this leave the existing All-You-Can-Eat data plans? Will it see the end of unrestricted AYCE data, in favour of a selection of services that Three will let you use?

The press release (see below) reads as if AYCE data doesn’t already exist, talking about users worried about running out of data and getting big bills – but that was what AYCE data was all about: Ending bill shock and giving a security net.

Three has tariffs to solve this problem, so is the beginning of the end? Or just a great offering for users on lower plans?

On a current plan with AYCE data, you can stream ANY video and music, rather than just using the services Three has announced today (Netflix, TV Player, plus Deezer and SoundCloud).

Where’s the BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video and others?

“Go Binge” means that as long as you have some data left, the above services will be zero-rated. But if you had unlimited data, you’d be fine anyway and without any of the shackles.

Three has to be concerned about the backlash if it ever ditched unlimited data entirely, so I don’t think it knows how to actually end the offering, and must instead find new and creative ways to convince people to opt for plans with fixed allowances instead.

This must be a further step towards this aim, just as we’ve seen unlimited data on PAYG go from £15 a month to £25, and now £35. That’s a pretty good effective to stop people bothering, but without having to deal with negative publicity for axing it entirely.

Three may want to keep offering an unlimited, unrestricted, plan but I can’t help but think it will gradually get so expensive that most people simply won’t see it worth the cost for ‘peace of mind’. A 12 or 30GB plan will be ample for many, and maybe Go Binge will sweeten the deal.

The jaded cynic in me wonders if this is a good thing for consumers going forward. Perhaps I’m just being overly concerned and have nothing to worry about, but I’ve been predicting the end of AYCE data for some time and every month that goes by, it seems I get one step closer to being proven right.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, or on Twitter.

  • Edited at 1547 to remove reference to SD video; the video quality is not restricted and was an error on the Three website. (6th July 1300 – it seems more updates today has once again called this into question, so I am once again seeking clarification). 
  • Edited again at 1800 to add that Three is stating true AYCE plans will remain, plus more services on the ‘Go Binge’ deal are planned in the future.

Press Release

Three zero-rates data so Brits can binge watch on the go

“Go Binge” offering allows binge-obsessed Brits to stream Netflix, TV Player, SoundCloud and Deezer without fear of exceeding their data limit

In a UK first, Three has today given Brits the freedom to stream all the music, TV and films they can handle, from a number of providers, by removing data charges on those services, with its new Go Binge data plans*.

New and existing customers will be able to stream Netflix, TV Player, Deezer and SoundCloud** without the data required by those services eating into their regular data bundles.

The creation of Go Binge follows a period of research and in-depth trend analysis undertaken by Three to better understand mobile streaming behaviour.***

Dave Dyson, Chief Executive at Three, said: “We know that from our extensive insight that bingeing on content has become part of everyday life, yet people have been unable to do that on the go as much as they’d like due to fears of exceeding data limits.

“It’s my ambition to unlock any restrictions that stop consumers from enjoying their mobiles and using them to do the things they love. With Go Binge we are the first network in the UK to give people the freedom to use their data to stream their favourite shows and music without any boundaries and without worrying about restrictive data allowances and charges.”

Notes to Editors

* Any existing contract, SIM only and broadband customers will be able to move to a new contract in order to benefit from the zero-rating of data across the four services, Netflix, TVPlayer, Deezer and SoundCloud. New customers on eligible plans will automatically have the service enabled although customers can opt-out. The service will provide all-you-can-eat (AYCE) streaming access to the four featured services on new Advanced Plans of 4GB and above for as long as you have some regular data left in your monthly allowance.
** Please note: Some of the selected services require subscriptions.
*** Research conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Three among 5,181 British adults over the age of 18.According to the results of the research, more than one in five Brits (21%)say bingeing is now the only way they watch a TV series. Currently 22% also regularly binge content on the go clearly indicating people’s desire to watch and listen to content, especially during downtime such as when they are commuting. Three wants to give people more freedom so everyone can stream content as and when they wish. Nearly 40% of the UK also admitted that they worry about streaming on the go due to the fear of using too much data. In response Three has launched Go Binge to free people from being forced to sit at home and the worry of running up huge data bills, in order to satisfy their bingeing obsession.

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