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T-Mobile’s rumored ‘free mobile TV service’ is actually just a Metro experiment

Smaller than we thought

T-Mobile is gearing up to launch a free mobile TV streaming service — but it’s going to be far tinier than the original report at Cheddar might have made you think. In fact, it’s not for T-Mobile subscribers at all.

A T-Mobile spokesperson pointed The Verge to this tweet, which clarifies that the supposed service will actually just be a “snackable content app,” only for T-Mobile’s Metro brand (you probably know them as MetroPCS), and only available on two phones to start.

Cheddar originally reported that the service will be ad-supported and free for T-Mobile customers, and that it would come preinstalled on several T-Mobile phones, including some Samsung devices. That is technically true, but only if you consider that T-Mobile the company owns the Metro brand. T-Mobile subscribers will not see this on T-Mobile phones yet.

It’s possible that the Samsung pre-install part is still true, and it’s obviously still true that the service will run on licensed Xumo streaming technology — since T-Mobile pointed us to a tweet by Xumo confirming that exact thing.

But the limited availability would mean it’s not a true counterpart to AT&T’s Watch TV service, nor Verizon’s Go90, which ended last year, each of which gave customers the ability to stream over-the-top television and monetize that usage with advertisements.

And it would definitely be different from T-Mobile’s “disruptive TV service” that is still to come. CEO John Legere originally said that TV service would launch in 2018, but he then pushed back to accommodate more mobile distribution rights, according to Bloomberg.

T-Mobile currently has more than 77 million subscribers, and it offers unlimited streaming to its customers, alongside free Netflix subscriptions with its Binge On plan.

Update, 1:58 PM ET: The original scoop at Cheddar was wrong, according to T-Mobile, and we’ve updated this post to reflect what its partner Xumo is actually announcing.