Mobile operator 3 UK announced a new data service called “Go Binge,” which will enable customers to watch and listen to Netflix, TVPlayer, SoundCloud and Deezer on their mobile devices without using any of their data allowances. To take advantage of the service, existing customers on any contract, SIM-only or broadband deal must move to a higher price plan. New customers on Advanced plans with 4 GB or above will automatically get the service.
To promote the launch of Go Binge, 3 UK has introduced the “Bed n Binge” luxury retreat, which it calls a “pop-up glamping experience” (glamping being a reference to “glamorous camping”). The retreat, which opened on 5 July, and lasted for five days in Osterley Park in Middlesex had people pay for a night at the retreat by binge-watching. Guests were handed a Samsung S8 or S8+ smartphone connected to 3 UK and invited to stay in one of 15 luxury cabins inspired by Netflix programs, such as Stranger Things, Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards, Narcos and the new show, GLOW.
3 UK said Go Binge was created in response to the UK’s obsession with keeping up with the latest and most popular series, “no matter what the consequences, even if that means missing a social engagement or ‘cheat-watching’ on their partner.” A survey by the operator found that 21 percent of Brits say bingeing is now the only way they watch a TV series. Another 22 percent regularly binge content on the go. However, nearly 40 percent worry that streaming on the go will use up too much data.
Keeping up with and appropriately responding to consumer habits is key for mobile operators. The pop-cultural trend of binge-watching has been made possible by the internet-based delivery of TV content, which makes multiple episodes of a series available simultaneously. The increasingly prevalence of binge-watching over mobile devices causes the consumption of ever-larger amounts of data—and as 3 UK’s survey indicates, a sizable number of users have concerns about the amounts of data that their entertainment content will consume.
With that in mind, the operator is taking a bold step toward easing those concerns. By zero-rating the data not only for Netflix but for several popular streaming services, it is giving its subscribers powerful motivation to go ahead and binge-watch to their hearts’ content, without regard for the data quantities involved. The spirit of this offering is epitomized by the over-the-top “glamping” promotional event, which in addition to encouraging indulgence in data, also fosters self-identification with the Netflix content.
For the operator, there are several upsides to this data giveaway. First off, the terms of the promotion require existing users to upgrade their service in order to get access to the zero-rated content. The higher prices paid for the plans will over time offset, to some extent, the revenue lost on data charges from the zero-rating. Second, and more important, encouraging subscribers to use a lot more data will very likely affect their usage habits over time, which the operator can cash in on in the future. And finally, by acknowledging consumer desires and catering to them, the operator will be gaining the confidence and loyalty of its customer base.