Sprint has purchased a major stake in Jay Z’s Tidal, as the streaming service looks for other avenues for growth amid controversy over its subscriber numbers.
Sprint will now own 33 percent of the service, while the existing leadership at Tidal will continue to run the service. Tidal will be producing some exclusive content only available to Sprint customers as part of the deal.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed, though Billboard reported that Sprint paid $200 million — a hefty sum for a service that had recently endured reports of over-inflated subscriber numbers. The investment from Sprint provides Tidal with a fresh round of investment as well as a powerful partner in Sprint, which currently counts around 45 million subscribers.
It’s a much-needed move as Tidal has yet to prove to be a serious competitor to Spotify and Apple Music.
After a splashy, celebrity-filled launch, the artist-centric streaming service has struggled to attract a major subscriber base despite the platform’s exclusive music releases. A recent investigation by a Norwegian newspaper (Tidal was originally founded in Norway before Jay Z bought it in 2015 for $56 million) alleged that Tidal had been publicly inflating its subscriber base. The company claimed at one point to have 3 million, while documents from Tidal sent to record labels and reviewed by the newspaper said 850,000 subscribers.
A Sprint spokesperson declined to answer questions about the specifics around the exclusive content. The companies did not disclose how much Sprint paid for the investment.
The deal means that Sprint will now have a business interest in seeing Tidal succeed, a position that could help the music streaming service pick up subscribers. There’s also a business case for Sprint at some point to bundle the Tidal music service with its existing mobile offering.
The move could be the first of many for Sprint, which is owned by the Japanese telecom firm Softbank. Softbank’s CEO recently pledged to invest $50 billion into the U.S.