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Free Netflix From T-Mobile: What You Need to Know

AT&T may have DirecTV, but now T-Mobile has Netflix. The nation's No. 3 carrier announced a deal today to give away Netflix plans to many of its subscribers.

The new plan was announced on a conference call with T-Mobile CEO John Legere going off on his usual profanity-laced tirade against his competitors. But what really matters are the details of the plan.

What is T-Mobile giving away?

T-Mobile is giving credit for one $10/month Netflix Standard streaming plan to each eligible account. That includes two simultaneous streams in HD. If you want to upgrade to the Premium plan with four streams, 4K and HDR, that will cost you $2/month.

When does it start? How do I get it?

Sign up on Sept. 12 by going into the T-Mobile phone app and connecting your Netflix account.

What T-Mobile plan do you need to have?

You need to have a recent T-Mobile One or One Plus family plan for two paid lines or more, with taxes and fees included. If you're on an older plan, the $100 per two-line promotional plan, or the 55+ senior plan, you need to switch up to the One or One Plus plans. You can associate one Netflix account with each plan, not each line.

What if I'm already a Netflix subscriber?

It works for existing and new subscribers; T-Mobile will transfer your Netflix details.

What's the catch?

The Netflix plan supports HD video, but not over T-Mobile's cellular network unless you have the One Plus plan. On the standard One plan, you'll get 480p video on cellular, and HD video on Wi-Fi and other internet connections.

How about HDR?

If you have a TV or phone (like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8) which supports HDR, and you pay the $2/month Premium upcharge, you'll get HDR video for HDR movies and shows no matter what the bit rate, so even if you're down at 480p.

How long will this last?

Related

T-Mobile doesn't have contracts any more, so neither you nor T-Mobile are locked into anything. This isn't a special promotion, but it can stop at any time.

How does this compare to other carriers?

AT&T offers free HBO with its $90/month Unlimited Plus plan, as well as a $25/month credit for its cable and satellite services; the cable packages become sharply more expensive after 12 months of use, though. Sprint doesn't bundle in any subscription video services, but gives you six months of the Tidal lossless audio service.

Should I take T-Mobile up on this offer?

If you're an existing subscriber on the right plan, yes! Absolutely. If you're on an older plan, or considering switching to T-Mobile, just think of this as a $10 bill credit. Whether it's a boon for you depends on whether a T-Mobile One plan, minus $10, is a savings against what you're paying now. If you're over age 55 and want two lines on unlimited, T-Mobile's 55+ plan, at $60/month for two lines, is still unbeatable.

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Google Play Movies & TV becomes a one-stop shop for everything that streams

With the explosion of streaming services now available, it’s becoming more difficult to figure out not just what movie or TV show to watch next, but where you can actually watch it. Google today is rolling out its solution to this problem with a significant revamp of its Google Play Movies & TV app and an update to the Google Play Store itself that will show you which streaming services have the content available, in addition to whether it’s available for rent or purchase, as before. The end result is something that’s similar to Apple’s own TV app, which combines users’ own library of movies and TV with the ability to seek out what’s trending and available in the world of online video. In the updated Google Play Movies & TV app, you’ll now find three tabs in the new bottom navigation bar which will direct you to your Home, Library or your Watchlist. The watchlist is a feature the app recently gained as well, but now it has a much more prominent position. As you browse through the app, you can click on titles to read more about them, as before, but now you’re also able to see where the item can be streamed. At launch, Google is working with 28 streaming services whose content libraries are now integrated in Google Play Movies & TV. That’s fewer than Apple’s TV app supports, which is currently over 60. But it will find content even if it’s an exclusive to the streaming provider, and not necessarily something Google has for rent or sale. That means you can find original programming – like Amazon’s “The Man in the High Castle” – and then start watching it on the streaming service that hosts it. “We deeplink right into playback for that [third-party streaming] app,” explains Ben Serridge, the product manager for the Movies & TV app at Google. “So if I wanted to start watching ‘The Good Doctor’ pilot, I press the play button and it goes into the ABC app and start playback.” Beyond the big names, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, the app also pulls in content from ABC, CBS, FOX NOW, NBC, HBO NOW, HBO Go, Showtime, Showtime Anytime, Max Go, Starz, Disney Now, HGTV, BET Now, Comedy Central, A&E, Cooking Channel, Crackle, DIY Network, Food Network, History, Lifetime, MTV, The CW, Travel Channel, Tubi TV and VH1. Notably missing is Netflix, whose content is searchable in Apple’s TV app. Serridge didn’t explain why it’s missing, saying only that “we would very much like to have all the apps that distribute this kind of content on Play participating” – effectively tossing the ball back to Netflix’s court. Even without Netflix, the feature is useful if not comprehensive. It will show you the services hosting the content, whether it’s freely available to stream, if you need a subscription (as with HBO Now), the associated costs, or if you need to login with pay TV credentials to watch. This is especially helpful because some of the network TV apps offer a teaser of a show with a few free episodes, but not complete seasons. The Google Play Movies & TV app will help you track down the rest elsewhere, if need be. The app will also now help you narrow down searches thanks to a robust filtering system that lets you click on tags by genre, mood, decade, and more. For example, you could click on “Family,” “Drama,” Award winning,” Highly rated,” Comedy,” and other filters. In addition to helping you find content, stream it, or add it to your Watchlist, the app includes personalized recommendations. These will be partly based on items you’ve previously watched, but you can also explicitly signal your interest or distste as well, by clicking on the thumbs up or thumbs down button. The thumbs down will remove the item from your suggestions entirely. Outside the app itself, the Play Store is being updated to show you the same information about content availability. Solutions like the new Google Play Movies & TV app and Apple’s TV app are handy in the cord cutting era where content is spread out across networks, services, and other over-the-top offerings. But even these apps aren’t enough. Not only is Netflix missing from Google’s app, so is its own YouTube original content – and that’s the same company! Also not addressed by either Apple or Google’s app are which shows may be available to stream or record via live TV services like YouTube TV, Hulu Live TV, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now, and Sling TV. (Although, to be fair, that’s not only a different set of services, it’s also a much larger challenge given that broadcast network availability varies by market. A dedicated solution like Suppose.tv or Fomopop’s live TV finder may work better.) Meanwhile, there are other tools for finding and tracking favorite shows, like Reelgood or TV Time (or a jailbroken Fire TV stick we should admit), but they don’t have the the benefit of matching content from a rent-and-buy marketplace like Google Play, or being available across phone, tablet, and desktop web, like Google Play. Google says the new features will roll out to Android phones and tablets in the U.S. over the next few days.

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