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Sprint agrees to buy 33% of Jay Z's Tidal music venture

[NEW YORK] Sprint Corp said it will buy 33 per cent of music-streaming service Tidal and offer exclusive content and access to subscribers as the fourth-largest US wireless carrier turns to media streaming to attract more customers.

Marcelo Claure, Sprint's chief executive officer, will join the Tidal board and musician Jay Z will continue to run the business, according to a statement Monday. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed. Sprint paid US$200 million for the stake, according to a report in MusicBusinessWorldwide.

Sprint's pact with Tidal comes after larger wireless rivals have added streaming services to the list of features offered to subscribers. AT&T Inc waives data charges to customers that subscribe to its online TV service - DirecTV Now. Verizon Communications Inc provides customers free streaming of NFL games and its go90 video service. T-Mobile US Inc lets users stream music and video from more than 100 partners without racking up big bills.

Tidal has struggled to add customers in a market dominated by Stockholm-based Spotify, Apple Inc and Pandora Media Inc. Tidal was in discussions with Apple about a sale last year, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. The company also tried to attract interest in a deal from Samsung Electronics in early 2016, according to Variety.

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Tidal said last year that it surpassed three million paying customers, but more recent user counts have come under question. Jay Z's holding company, S Carter Enterprises LLC, agreed to buy Tidal's maker, Aspiro AB, in January 2015 from Schibsted ASA, a Norwegian media company. Soon after making the US$56 million purchase, Tidal accused the previous owner of inflating the user numbers.

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