Viacom18’s JioCinema plans to bulk up on content with more than 100 films and TV series to its platform to take on global biggies such as Netflix and Walt Disney, but this will come at a cost for consumers. In an interview to Bloomberg, Reliance’s media and content business President Jyoti Deshpande said the expansion will coincide with JioCinema starting to charge for content, though the exact pricing strategy is still being finalised.
The content addition will be rolled out before the end of IPL on May 28. Viewers can watch matches for free until then, she said.
Deshpande said the plan is to “keep tariffs simple for viewers”. Currently, the streaming space “is dominated by westernized content. Jio Studios wants to become a catalyst for cross pollination of talent. We want to get as Indian as it can,” she told Bloomberg.
India is a price-conscious market that had forced Netflix to cut prices to make inroads, while there are several regional OTTs that command a good subscriber base as they attract the local cinema-going fandom.
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Both price and content are at the front of mind in JioCinema’s expansion, said Deshpande.The likely strategy to start charging for content comes at a time when the conglomerate-owned platform has attracted millions of viewers banking on the ongoing IPL razzmatazz.JioCinema has claimed that the platform has seen 5.5 billion unique video views in the first week. It also said that the Chennai Super Kings versus Rajasthan Royals match on JioCinema drew a record-breaking 22 million concurrent viewers on April 12, 2023.
IPL’s record-shattering numbers have been true for the television too, as Disney Star, which is airing the matches on more than 20 channels, said that the first 10 IPL games have clocked 62.3 billion minutes of watch time. It had a peak concurrency of 56 million for the opening match.
For the first time ever, two companies – Disney Star and Viacom18, are broadcasting the matches on television and digital platforms, respectively. The companies had spent a bagful of money to pick up the broadcast rights. What they also did was set up a fierce rivalry to either establish the dominance of television viewership or change the habit to adopt OTT as the preferred mode for watching cricket.
Viacom18, a joint venture between Reliance Industries and Paramount Global, said JioCinema, the official digital streaming partner of IPL, clocked over 147 crore video views, recording the highest-ever opening weekend for the tournament on digital.
Walt Disney & Co-owned Star Sports, the official television broadcaster of IPL had bagged the TV rights for the Indian subcontinent, paying Rs 23,575 crore. Thanks to IPL, its TV rating also spiked 29%.
Ambani is thus building on the popularity of IPL to push content and finally introduce the pricing strategy for a nation home to 1.4 billion people who are crazy about cricket as well as movies. He also seeks to become a global media and online streaming behemoth, taking on the global giants.
The billionaire businessman has with his ‘freebies’ playbook always disrupted markets, particularly in recent years and with the addition of the Jio brand. When he rolled out the flagship telecom venture, his free offerings set up cut-throat pricing in the market that hurt revenues severely for the financially-strained telecom industry.
As for free IPL streaming and in 4k mode, experts had opined that Ambani wasn’t just aiming to win viewers. He was keen to plant a dominant position for consumer super-apps while his flagship telecom company attracted customers from Sunil Mittal’s Bharti Airtel and financially strained Vodafone Idea.
Ambani is also seen close to listing Jio Platforms on the stock indices.
His disruptive playbook of offering free streaming, like during the FIFA World Cup, harps on getting larger advertisers to sign chequebooks or even Reliance promoting its own products, particularly the FMCG items where the business kingpin has set eyes to dominate the market.
News Source: https://m.economictimes.com/industry/media/entertainment/ambani-builds-on-record-cricket-views-with-film-tv-offerings/articleshow/99506069.cms