Is Tidal's Sprint deal Jay Z's last chance to steal a chase on his streaming rivals?

Is Tidal's Sprint deal Jay Z's last chance to steal a chase on his streaming rivals?

Following months of speculation over whether or not Jay Z was ready to offload Tidal to the highest bidder, telecoms firm Sprint yesterday snapped up 33% of the streaming service for an undisclosed fee. But, while the deal looks set to introduce Tidal to a vast new consumer base, will the promise of more exclusive content be enough to tempt customers away from its streaming competitors?

Last year, rumours began to circulate that Apple Music was sniffing around the company, as the tech giant looked to bolster its position in the market and claw back some of Spotify’s dominant market share.

However, as those alleged talks cooled, so too it seemed did the likelihood of a sale. Indeed, one recent report suggested that the company had exaggerated the number of Tidal subscribers, perhaps in a bid to pique the interest of any potential buyers. Norwegian media outlet Dagens Næringsliv claimed that, while the company stated that it had three million subscribers to its name as of March 2016, the genuine figure was more like 850,000.

Despite these claims, Sprint still saw fit to part with what was apparently around $200 million for its 33% share. And though a drastic spike in subscribers is unlikely to happen overnight, the deal could potentially attract a substantial new audience to the platform.

As part of the agreement, Sprint will make Tidal available to its entire mobile customer base, which currently totals around 45 million users. And despite the absence of a free subscription – users will likely pay a fee of $9.99 per month – the promised up-scaling of Tidal exclusives will no doubt be of keen interest to fans.

“Jay saw not only a business need, but a cultural one, and put his heart and grit into building Tidal into a world-class music streaming platform that is unrivalled in quality and content,” said Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure in a statement. “The passion and dedication that these artist-owners bring to fans will enable Sprint to offer new and existing customers access to exclusive content and entertainment experiences in a way no other service can.”

“Sprint shares our view of revolutionising the creative industry to allow artists to connect directly with their fans and reach their fullest, shared potential,” added Jay Z. “Marcelo understood our goal right away and together we are excited to bring Sprint’s 45 million customers an unmatched entertainment experience.”

All eyes will now be on Tidal to see just how lucrative a deal its new partnership with Sprint proves to be. Perhaps, with significant marketing spend, a stellar line-up of exclusive releases from the world’s top talent will help slowly but surely up its streaming market share. Maybe Sprint’s involvement will render the service a more attractive prospect for any other parties interested in investing in the company. 

Either way, with a potential 45m new customers and a host of high-profile exclusives in its sights, Tidal’s latest move is sure to be enough to, at the very least, keep its rivals on its toes.

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