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T-Mobile adds Apple TV+ to promotional arsenal

T-Mobile said it will offer a year of Apple TV+ streaming video services to some current and new customers. The offer represents the latest salvo in a promotional war among the nation's wireless service providers, as well as another distribution mechanism for Apple's burgeoning streaming service.

"Customers love streaming at T-Mobile. In fact it's the #1 use of our network with over half of overall traffic – so of course, we're expanding options for customers – bringing them the award-winning Apple TV+ for 12 months free," Jon Freier, EVP of T-Mobile's Consumer Group, said in a release.

Importantly, T-Mobile is reserving the Apple TV+ offering for its more expensive unlimited plans, dubbed Magenta and Magenta MAX. Apple TV+ will not be offered to T-Mobile's customers on its cheapest Essentials unlimited plan. That strategy dovetails with the operator's broader efforts to increase revenues by encouraging customers to sign up for its more expensive unlimited plans. AT&T and Verizon have identical pricing strategies.

T-Mobile's new agreement with Apple for Apple TV+ comes at an important time for the operator. T-Mobile is in the midst of an increasingly contentious promotional battle with rivals AT&T and Verizon. Each operator is working to sweeten its stance in the market in the early days of 5G. Recent promotional offers range from free phones and discounted services to service plans packed with digital goodies, including free streaming services.

For Apple, the agreement represents a new vector of distribution for its new streaming video service. The company has offered a similar year of free service to customers who purchase its devices. Now, the company is expanding that promotion effort to partners like T-Mobile with the hope that, after the free year of service ends, customers will then begin subscribing to the $4.99 per month service.

T-Mobile kicked off the mobile streaming video trend in 2017 by bundling Netflix's service into its pricing plans. AT&T and Verizon followed suit with their own offerings in the intervening years. Today, T-Mobile offers Netflix and Apple TV+, AT&T offers HBO Max and Verizon offers Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ and Discovery+. (To be clear, some of those services are free only for six months or a year, like T-Mobile's Apple TV+.)

More broadly, such offers represent an attempt to entice new customers from rivals and to keep existing customers from leaving. In the second quarter, T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon all reported growth in their respective postpaid customer bases, an indication such efforts have been successful.

Finally, the timing of T-Mobile's offer is noteworthy considering the company last week suffered through a number of punishing headlines related to a massive hack into the company's systems.

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