Like Netflix? T-Mobile is giving it away for free

You'll need to be on a plan with at least two T-Mobile One voice lines to be eligible for the freebie.

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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  • SABEW Best in Business 2011 Award for Breaking News Coverage, Eddie Award in 2020 for 5G coverage, runner-up National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Award for culture analysis.
Roger Cheng
3 min read
Watch this: T-Mobile's latest perk: free Netflix

T-Mobile  and  Netflix  are new BFFs.

The primary beneficiaries of this new friendship will be subscribers to T-Mobile's "One" unlimited data plans, many of whom will get access to Netflix for free, T-Mobile CEO John Legere announced Wednesday via spray paint on an "Un-carrier Next" webcast video.

But the freebie only works if you have at least two T-Mobile One unlimited data voice lines (single line customers are out of luck). The free Netflix access arrives on Sept. 12. Customers on legacy or promotional plans, like two lines for $100, or the senior citizen discount, need to upgrade to a T-Mobile One family plan to be eligible. 


T-Mobile CEO John Legere is at it again. 

Josh MIller/CNET

The alliance is just the latest proof that the worlds of video and mobile are colliding. AT&T is in the process of buying Time Warner -- home of "Game of Thrones" and Batman -- so it can own more of the content you watch, and has bundled HBO for free to some of its higher-end wireless customers. Verizon has invested in creating short-form video geared towards younger audiences and a mobile video service called Go90.

The Defenders

T-Mobile customers will soon get access to shows like "The Defenders" for free. 

Sarah Shatz/Netflix

T-Mobile, the third-largest wireless player -- well behind Verizon and AT&T -- is opting instead to partner with a well-known entertainment player rather than create its own shows and movies. Netflix is one of the world's largest streaming video sites, with 104 million subscribers around the world and nearly 52 million in the US alone, as of July.

It's about to get a few more.

Under the new program, T-Mobile acts as a reseller of Netflix, so a charge and credit for the service will show up in your phone bill. T-Mobile One customers will get the standard $9.99 plan, which allows for high-definition video and two simultaneous streams. Customers opting for the $11.99 premium plan can pay the difference in their T-Mobile bill.

"What we've struck with Netflix is an exclusive long-term partnership and relationship," Legere said on a press conference call. "It's a great deal for our customers."

"This is the right move at the right time -- for all the right reasons," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in a blog post.     

T-Mobile Chief Operating Officer Mike Sievert confirmed that T-Mobile is the only US carrier that will be able to strike this deal, so don't expect the other carriers to match this offer. 

T-Mobile will be offering new accounts as part of the program, but you'll be able to link your existing Netflix account as well. 

T-Mobile stressed that it was paying Netflix for the service, although Sievert hinted that it got a slight discount. He said the company would make up for the cost through subscriber and revenue growth. 

The carriers have been upping their game in terms of perks to get you to switch to their service. There's T-Mobile Tuesday, a program to offer weekly freebies. AT&T offers its DirecTV Now online streaming service for $10 a month to all its unlimited customers. And Sprint previously offered a year of Amazon Prime service to new customers. It's now offering a free year of service for those willing to switch, as well as access to music streaming service Tidal.  

The move to get more content on phones makes sense, with a record high of nearly 57 percent of video playing from mobile, according to video software and service provider Ooyala. The firm said customers are more comfortable than ever watching longer videos on their phones, despite the smaller screen.

For many fans of Netflix's "House of Cards" or "GLOW," they'll soon have T-Mobile to thank for their binge-athons. 

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