Sprint appears to be testing a promotion that gives customers who select the operator’s unlimited data service free access to Dish Network’s Sling TV linear streaming service. The offering is available to new and existing Sprint customers in Atlanta and Chicago.
Sprint is giving customers free Sling TV service if they add four or more lines on its Unlimited Freedom plan, according to details on the carrier’s website. Customers get access to the Sling TV “Orange” service—Sling TV’s cheapest tier of service—that includes more than 30 streaming TV channels including ESPN, CNN, Disney, HGTV and more. Sprint customers who don’t have four lines of unlimited service get a $3 per month discount to Sling TV plans.
Sprint said Sling TV’s Orange service will be free to customers until May of next year, when the price will rise to $17 per month.
Sprint stores are also selling a Roku Express for $29.99 (a price that doesn’t include any kind of discount) in conjunction with the promotion.
"We often times will conduct trials for new service or pricing," Sprint spokesperson Kathleen Dunleavy told FierceWireless. "This trial represents a great opportunity for customers in these markets to try out Sling TV on our network – and provides our customers more entertainment options."
Wave7 Research first noted the promotion.
The new promotion from Sprint appears geared toward sweetening its unlimited data offering, which is already the nation’s cheapest. Sprint previously charged $60 per month for one line of service on its unlimited plan before reducing that by $10 a month in February to offer unlimited data service at $50 per month. Comparatively, AT&T charges $90 per month for a single line of unlimited data service (though it also offers a $60 option that caps user speeds at 3 Mbps) while T-Mobile charges $70 per month for unlimited data (though that price includes taxes and fees). Verizon, for its part, joined the unlimited game earlier this year with an $80 per month plan for a single line of service.
Sprint’s Sling TV promotion primarily stands as an answer to AT&T’s DirecTV Now promotion. Last week, AT&T said it would offer its DirecTV Now streaming TV service for $10 extra per month to customers who sign up for its new unlimited data service, making the combination of AT&T unlimited data and DirecTV Now cost a total of $100 per month for a single line of service. AT&T has argued that its acquisition of satellite TV provider DirecTV—and its resulting Direct TV Now over-the-top streaming TV service—will give it a leg up on its wireless competition.
However, Sprint isn’t the only carrier that has toyed with streaming video promotions. Verizon last year gave away three free months of HBO Now service to new or upgrading customers, while T-Mobile has countered AT&T’s DirecTV Now service with its own free DirecTV Now service alongside a free year of Hulu’s service. Indeed, Sprint itself has in the past offered discounted access to Amazon Prime, including Amazon Prime Video.
Sprint’s Sling TV offering is also noteworthy considering Sling TV is owned by Dish Network. Dish is currently sitting on a sizable trove of mid-band spectrum holdings that analysts have said is worth billions of dollars; most in the industry expect Verizon to ultimately purchase those airwaves.
Article updated March 6 to include comment from Sprint.