Verizon counters Sprint/Amazon, T-Mobile/MLB deals with free HBO Now, with 'Game of Thrones'

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) today announced that new or upgrading customers will be eligible to receive three free months of HBO Now service -- a noteworthy offer considering the 6th season of HBO's popular Game of Thrones series is schedule to start later this month. Verizon's new promotion also stands as a counter to similar content offerings from T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) for MLB.TV Premium access and Sprint (NYSE: S) for Amazon Prime (NASDAQ: AMZN) access.

However, Verizon does not appear to be zero-rating the data generated by HBO Now's streaming video. Verizon is zero-rating some of the streaming video data for its Go90 app through its FreeBee Data 360 program. A representative from Verizon didn't immediately respond to questions from FierceWireless about whether the streaming data from HBO Now would count against users' monthly data allotments.

HBO Now typically costs $14.99 per month. Verizon said its offer of three months of free access to the service would be available to customers who switch to Verizon, or who upgrade or activate a new line of service. However, customers must use Verizon's device payment plan. But Verizon noted that, if customers choose its XL data plan or larger, they'll receive 2 GB of monthly bonus data for each new or upgraded line.

Verizon's offer appears to stand as a competitive response to its rivals. Earlier last month, T-Mobile said it would give customers a full, free year's subscription to MLB.TV Premium. The offer is open to T-Mobile Simple Choice customers on "qualifying plans" and covers every out-of-market regular season game. Data generated from MLB games won't count against users' data allotments due to T-Mobile's Binge On program.

And late last month, Sprint said it would team with Amazon on a promotion enabling customers to pay for a monthly subscription to Amazon Prime on their mobile bills. However, Sprint subscribers can pay an extra $10.99 on their monthly wireless bills for Prime, enabling them to access Amazon's video and music libraries, e-books and two-day shipping, among other things. Amazon charges $99 a year for Prime, which is roughly one-fourth less than Sprint's monthly offering over a full year.

Verizon's HBO Now offer coincides with the carrier's push into mobile video through its Go90 offering. Just this week the carrier continued its aggressive expansion into media with the announcement that it will buy a 24.5 percent stake in AwesomenessTV, a digital video company owned by DreamWorks Animation that targets teens and preteens. AwesomenessTV content will in part be distributed on Verizon's Go90.

Like Verizon, AT&T too has been working to bolster its own content offerings. The carrier last year acquired DirecTV and has said it plans to offer a handful of DirecTV-branded video offerings later this year. In the meantime, the carrier is offering unlimited wireless data services to its U-verse and DirecTV customers; already more than 2 million AT&T customers have signed up for those offerings.

For more:
- see this Verizon release

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