T-Mobile Forges Deals With Pandora, Live Nation

T-Mobile US

TMUS -1.08%

said it would give customers free music and perks from

Pandora Media

P -0.50%


Live Nation Entertainment

LYV -1.14%

the latest in a string of sweeteners from carriers battling for customers without resorting to discounting.

The No. 3 wireless company in terms of subscribers said Wednesday it will give one year of Pandora Plus service to existing customers who sign up this month through its T-Mobile Tuesdays app. Subscribers were also promised special seating and other perks at events run by concert promoter Live Nation, an arrangement similar to the carrier’s existing partnership with Major League Baseball.

Pandora charges $4.99 a month for Pandora Plus, an ad-free subscription that allows listeners to skip songs, replay songs and listen offline. After the first free year, T-Mobile customers who keep the service would be charged the monthly fee unless the companies extend their partnership.

The carrier still offers basic cellphone service through its new T-Mobile Essentials plan, which starts at $60 a month and includes fewer perks, and through its MetroPCS prepaid brand. Executives said customers on T-Mobile’s flagship unlimited plan have come to expect extra benefits.

“We’re forcing the redefinition of what cell service means,” Chief Executive

John Legere

said in an interview, adding that competitors’ “definition of their offers over the past couple of years has been determined by our actions.”

Several carriers have joined with tech and media companies to keep customers satisfied as improving wireless network quality makes it harder for customers to distinguish brands. T-Mobile last year offered free


subscriptions to customers on its premium unlimited plans, while merger partner


has enticed new customers with access to streaming services from Hulu and Tidal, a music service.  


took the bundling strategy a step further by offering subscribers on its unlimited wireless plans a free app with live TV channels. That service, called WatchTV, partly relied on Turner channels that the wireless company acquired through its June purchase of Time Warner. AT&T also lets its top-tier unlimited customers add a premium streaming service like HBO or Pandora Premium for free.

T-Mobile is seeking to buy Sprint in a more than $26 billion merger deal that would leave the U.S. with three nationwide cellphone companies. The combination is under regulatory review.

T-Mobile said Wednesday it will also revamp its customer service model to assign a “team of experts” to specific customers. The move is designed to avoid putting customers on hold and cut down on call transfers.

The company said it would hire 5,000 to 6,000 more U.S. workers to support the plan. Sprint and T-Mobile have sought to build public support for their merger by pledging to hire more employees.

Write to Drew FitzGerald at [email protected]

Source : WSJ

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