Well, this was somewhat unexpected. Sprint just bought a 33 percent stake in Tidal, giving the carrier a significant (though not controlling) influence over Jay Z's streaming music service. The company is not discussing the terms of the partnership, but it'll take Tidal's fondness for exclusives one step further. Tidal will offer exclusive content that will only be available to Sprint subscribers -- yes, even being a loyal listener won't be enough. You'll hear more details on offers and promos "soon," Sprint says.
The two unsurprisingly hope to grow their customer bases through the alliance, albeit for somewhat different reasons. Sprint gets the sort of media perk that it hasn't had lately. It now has an answer (if currently a limited one) to AT&T's DirecTV services and promos, T-Mobile's Music Freedom and Binge On and Verizon offerings like Go90 and NFL Mobile. The network has been faring better than usual lately (it's adding more customers and lowering its turnover), but it's still posting losses and isn't growing as quickly as peers like T-Mobile.
For Tidal, this may be more vital. Even if you discount questions about its subscriber base, the service is unquestionably smaller than heavyweights like Apple Music and Spotify -- a pact with Sprint could help it get noticed by customers that might otherwise make a beeline for one of the bigger names. Also, a 33 percent stake is hefty for any company, but it's particularly important for a relatively small company. This could help Tidal focus more on growth and less on worrying about its bottom line, at least in the short term.