Rather than offering better prices to persuade customers to choose it over Lyft, Uber has decided to lure people in with free entertainment. The company has joined forces with AT&T to start streaming football games in a handful of cities over the next couple of months. Using seat-mounted tablets with the AT&T U-verse app, riders will be able to stream football games for no additional cost. However, this is more of a promotion for the U-verse app than a long-term plan for Uber to compete with Lyft.
Are black cars the next battleground for cellular supremacy? AT&T, it seems, is trying to find out. In a deal with Uber, AT&T will be testing live streaming of college football games to a limited number of Chevy Tahoe SUVs in four cities (Nashville, Detroit, Atlanta, and Houston) over the next two months. Tablets mounted in the back of the Tahoe’s headrests will be running AT&T’s U-verse app connected to LTE, with wireless headphones providing the sound. (A selection of football stars will also be randomly joining passengers in their rides, but that’s likely a limited-time thing that won’t continue beyond the trial period.) There is no additional cost for the feature when hailing an Uber car — yet — but for AT&T, it’s an advertisement: experiencing TV streaming over its LTE network in a moving vehicle, get impressed, and sign up for its wireless or TV service, the theory would go. From Uber’s perspective, it could simply be viewed as a value-add that helps set it apart from Lyft and other car services. And this isn’t the first time Uber has toyed with streaming services to boost its core product: last year it launched a Spotify partnership which lets passengers select a Spotify playlist for streaming before they get into the car.