Marvel dubbed Avengers: Infinity War as the “most ambitious crossover event in history.” But with the T-Mobile-Sprint merger, is it really? On April 29, the two American wireless carriers announced a $26 billion merger, citing the need for a stronger 5G network. With this merger, the company, which will take the name T-Mobile, is poised to take on the two major players in the telecom industry, AT&T and Verizon.
The merger is already big news, and its potential implications are much discussed online. Sprint announced “the best profitability in company history” due to growth in customer base following the announcement. While the companies have much to celebrate, what do consumers think? Are they concerned about a potential new monopoly? Or excited about the possibility of an increasingly viable alternative to AT&T and Verizon? By looking at the online conversation, we analyze the response to one of the largest mergers in recent history.
On and Off and On Again
Merging T-Mobile and Sprint is far from a new discussion. Conversations about a T-Mobile-Sprint merger began almost a decade ago. In July 2010, former Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said he saw “logic” in a merger with T-Mobile. “We have the spectrum resources where we could add LTE if we choose to do that, on top of the WiMAX network,” Hesse told The Financial Times. “The beauty of having a lot of spectrum is we have a lot of flexibility.”
— BX (R) (@bxriv) January 28, 2017
Trump lied about 5,000 Sprint jobs. Will he also lie when he allows Sprint & T-Mobile to merge & kill 000s of jobs? https://t.co/aEhMaql84z
— Richard Hine (@richardhine) January 3, 2017
Sprint helped Trump lie about jobs so they could get T-Mobile merger approved, which will cut thousands of jobs. https://t.co/RaZ2dq7xiT
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) January 2, 2017
Volume peaked again in October 2017, reaching 1.8k posts. In October 2017, plenty of speculation swirled. Gizmodo reported that the merger was dead, but USA Today suggested that the merger may finally happen. With many different messages, consumers discussed the possibility of the merger and its implications. When the merger was finally announced on April 29, volumed reached 3k posts on that day. In the month of April, as rumors swirled, volume reached 5k.
Consumer Sentiment About the Merger
T-Mobile and Sprint speak often about the dual benefits of a merger. But the consumer conversation is very different, overwhelmingly negative from the very start. Positive sentiment never rose above 21 percent from 2010 to 2018.
Over the years, the conversation about a potential Sprint T-Mobile merger has significantly, evolved, but much of the major conversation drivers have remained consistent. We looked at the online consumer conversation shortly before and after the merger was announced on April 29.
Consumers seemed to have positive reactions to the deal being finalized after years of discussion, T-Mobile CEO John Legere, and better coverage. Some consumers expressed relief over the deal coming to a close
However, consumers also had negative opinions about the merger. Some called it a “terrible idea,” citing potential price increases.
Others said that Sprint’s service is already deficient, and the merger doesn’t help.
@JohnLegere we’ve been T-Mobile customers for almost 20 years. If this merger with crappy Sprint effects our service even in the slightest we will leave so fast a sonic boom will be heard from our phone numbers porting over. So unhappy about this. Sprint is Garbage.
— Tim Myers (@denvercoder) April 29, 2018
Finally, T-Mobile CEO John Legere received some flack for being a main decision-maker in this deal. Consumers said that there are negative implications for jobs with this merger, which will not spur job creation.
You’re lying. Mergers never, never, ever, never ever forever never create new jobs.
Literally the opposite is true. People will be losing jobs as redundancies are eliminated.
Shame on you John.
— (((Dan))) (@dan_rar) May 2, 2018
My worst fears were confirmed today when i learned that your company was merging with @sprint
I switched from them over 18 years ago & vowed to never go back bec they messed up my bill & their customer service was horrible. I hope you know what your doing!
— Moe Dollars was @ 1stEverKamehaCon2018 (@blabermouth) April 28, 2018
Who’s Talking About the Merger?
According to Pew Research Center, 91 percent of American adults own a cell phone. But who’s talking about this merger online?
The consumers dominating the conversation are overwhelmingly male, encompassing 73 percent of the conversation.
The conversation is also dominated by those who are older, with 76 percent of the conversation comprised by those 35 and above.
Comparing the affinities of the two audiences, we see that those discussing T-Mobile are more interested in technology, indicated by their interests in information technology, gadgets, Microsoft, Apple, and video games. On the other hand, those discussing Sprint are more interested in business, demonstrated by their interests in risk management, outsourcing, customer experience, product management, and sales.
By looking at the social conversation about the T-Mobile-Sprint merger, we see that the business deal is not clear-cut. There are many aspects of the merger that are not pushed to the forefront by the company CEOs, who speak positively about the merger.
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Social data can unearth how consumers truly feel and help brands understand why consumers feel a certain way, and who their audiences are. Check out our free guide to Audience Analysis here: 5-minute Guide to Audience Analysis