T-Mobile Offers Free MLB.TV Subscription to Lure Customers

  • Promotion is worth $109.99 as part of MLB sponsorship kickoff
  • Live sports drive leading edge of new mobile video competition

T-Mobile US Inc. is offering subscribers free one-year access to MLB.TV for live broadcasts of Major League Baseball games through its Binge On service, as the No. 3 wireless carrier seeks to distinguish itself from larger rivals in the emerging business of mobile video.

During baseball season’s opening week, T-Mobile customers can sign up for a free subscription to MLB.TV Premium, a $109.99 live-game service, the Bellevue, Washington-based company said in a statement Wednesday. Subscribers will be able to stream every out-of-market regular season game, T-Mobile said.

The promotion also includes At Bat Premium, a $19.99 feature with radio broadcasts of games. T-Mobile is pitching the offer to coincide with a three-year sponsorship deal with MLB.

Wireless carriers are taking different approaches to video programming to lure subscribers. T-Mobile’s Binge On service streams lower-resolution video without running up data charges. Verizon Communications Inc. introduced go90, a free video service last year featuring NBA and NFL games. And AT&T Inc., which has NFL Sunday Ticket and is sponsoring the NCAA basketball Final Four, plans to start a mobile video package with premium content by the end of this year.

“Watching sports live is really where mobile shines,” said Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics.

Sports accounted for 93 of the top 100 live-viewed TV programs in 2015, compared with 14 in 2005, according to a Nielsen report last month on U.S. TV trends.

Access to sports via phone has changed viewing habits, Entner said.

“If a game is on and people are at work or pulled away from their TVs, they are going to watch it on their phone,” Entner said.

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