It’s nearly autumn, and that generally means it’s time for another “Uncarrier” announcement from T-Mobile.
In its latest move, the wireless carrier is linking with Netflix, offering to provide the streaming service’s basic subscription at no extra cost for those who subscribe to T-Mobile One family plans (which involve two or more lines). T-Mobile announced the partnership with a video featuring CEO John Legere using magenta spray paint to write the words, “On Us” under Netflix’s familiar white programming logo, and then dropping the spray can like a microphone.
“Netflix has totally disrupted entertainment, and T-Mobile has totally disrupted wireless,” Legere said in a webcast following the announcement. “The world is about to find out what it means when you bring two disruptors together. I’ve been saying for years now, all content is going to the internet, and the internet is going mobile.”
The offer applies not only to new customers, but also to current One family plan holders. In announcing the plan, T-Mobile executives characterized the move as breaking up the “carrier bundle,” which involve offering additional services and speeds for additional costs (or through short-term promotions that expire and then involve costs). T-Mobile executives said the Netflix partnership comes with no strings attached and is currently exclusive to T-Mobile customers in the United States.
“[Bundling] has been [wireless companies’] core strategy for years: take something you want, and put it together with something you don’t want, and then put it in a bill that explodes,” Legere said. “It really is just another scheme to shake down customers. It’s a huge pain point, and it needs to be ‘Uncarriered.’”
For the promotion, T-Mobile will cover Netflix’s Standard $9.99 monthly subscription. Customers seeking to be a part of Netflix’s Premium plan ($11.99 a month) will see the extra $2 tacked onto their phone bills. Current Netflix customers who are on, or switch to, a qualifying T-Mobile plan will simply need to link their Netflix and T-Mobile accounts to begin the payments.
“This is the right move at the right time — for all the right reasons,” said Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix, in a statement. “More and more fans are bingeing on mobile, so we’re bringing together Netflix’s award-winning TV shows and movies with T-Mobile’s award-winning, unlimited network.”
In addition to easing a consumer pain-point, T-Mobile executives said the deal is also a vote of confidence in the company's network. They assert that AT&T’s and Verizon’s networks have been struggling under increased usage from unlimited data plans. T-Mobile’s network, they claimed, is ready to take on the increased data that comes with many users streaming Netflix video.
“All the content in the world that the other guys have — or will have — doesn’t mean shit if your network can’t handle it,” Legere said. “We are giving unlimited network and 'binge-on' to our customers because our network can handle it. … This is a celebration of our network, and another one in a series of taunts to our ‘friends.’”
T-Mobile will begin promoting the “Netflix on Us” availability (which begins Sept. 12) through a television ad (below) that features the two companies’ audio signatures running back-to-back before moving into scenes from some of Netflix’s most popular shows (“House of Cards,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Stranger Things”) and the promotional details. T-Mobile will also be hosting an all-day “meme-a-thon” on Twitter, in which T-Mobile customers will be encouraged to answer questions posed by the company using Netflix-related memes. Prizes during the “meme-a-thon” include T-Mobile onesies, smartphones and an expenses-paid trip to the season two premiere of Netflix series “Stranger Things.”