Reliance’s Jio, having aggressively recruited talent from Disney’s Hotstar, is placing a substantial wager on IPL in a bid to win a large slice of India’s streaming market.
Jio’s aggressive data pricing and plethora of additional services have yet to gain traction with consumers, likely because the majority of these offerings are geared toward retaining customers rather than attracting new ones. One example is Jio’s Rs. 303 plan, which allows subscribers to access 99 channels of telephony and online content for a flat monthly fee. While this may be appealing to heavy TV viewers or online avid readers, it has thus far failed to capture the attention of more casual users who are looking for simpler options that do not require commitment beyond month-to-month payments.
The highly anticipated Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament, starting later today, presents prime opportunity for Reliance Jio to revamp its service adoption strategy. Jio has already announced plans to offer free voice and data services until the end of the year in an attempt to lure customers away from traditional telecom providers such as Airtel and Vodafone. The company is also expected to unveil new features for its mobile app later this week that will make it easier for users to switch between operators. With so much competition in the market, Reliance Jio is under pressure to increase customer conversion rates and drive more adoption amongst consumers.
Viacom18’s streaming service will let everyone in India watch IPL games for free on the Jio network, marking a huge shift in the way major sports leagues are available to audiences around the world. This decision by Viacom18 is likely to strengthen Reliance’s position as India’s leading tech company, and it could even help revive Paramount Pictures’ fortunes after years of declining revenues.
Ajit Mohan and Uday Shankar’s strategic investment in cricket streaming nearly a decade ago catapulted Hotstar to prominence as the go-to destination for live cricket matches. The platform built an expansive library of video content and developed innovative tools that let users follow their favorite teams and players across various platforms. Cricket alone solidified Hotstar’s position at the forefront of the market, with viewers turning to Hotstar for both on-demand streaming and live match viewing.
Disney’s $71 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox created a large portfolio of assets and services, one of which was the hugely successful Hotstar streaming service. The service is popular in India, where it is used to watch live and on-demand programming as well as classics that are unavailable in other countries. Disney decided to expand the Hotstar service to many international markets after buying Fox, hoping to replicate the success that it has found in India.
Disney’s decision to relinquish digital streaming bids and focus on securing television broadcast rights has left many industry insiders perplexed. The company has also decided not to renew the licensing rights for HBO content in India, which has understandably frustrated many Hotstar subscribers. Disney’s apparent lack of interest in digital streaming leaves a major hole in its portfolio, and it is unclear whether or not the company will return to the market in the future.
Reliance Jio was an instrumental player in the growth of Hotstar, as the company’s package of affordable data plans enabled tens of millions of Indian consumers to alter their internet consumption habits virtually overnight. With Reliance Jio’s help, Hotstar also became the most popular pay-TV app in India. Disney reaped significant benefits from this close relationship; not only did Jio provide cheap and reliable data service to its customers, but it also helped to grow Hotstar into one of India’s leading entertainment platforms.
It seems that Reliance has shifted gears and is only focusing on its own interests now. This may be a sign that the company is no longer interested in working together with other companies, as it has in the past.
Disney has invested in Jio, restructuring its infrastructure to accommodate a large user base. The move is indicative of the entertainment giant’s aggressive pursuit of new markets, and signals Disney’s confidence in Jio’s capabilities. With 16 distinct feeds- each featuring ultra-HD resolution – coverage in 12 languages, and a mobile app that is already used by over 100 million people across India, Jio is primed to bring cricket fans the best possible experience.
It’s no secret that Indian cricket is a huge draw for fans around the world. With its passionate fans, high- viewership figures and lucrative prize money, it’s no wonder leading media companies are keen to get their hands on the sport. Viacom 18 has come up with Jio Cinema – a platform where spectators can watch live matches from the IPL on their mobiles, tablets and TVs. According to Media Partners Asia, this will be able to drive sales of up to $350 million during the season this year – far surpassing digital sales in 2022. With cricket set to become even more popular in India over the next few years, it looks like Viacom18 will have an incredibly successful IPL Season
The steep loss against annualized 2023-27 IPL rights fees of US$1.2 bil. indicates that the value of cricketing content is not as high as envisioned by those in charge of its production and distribution. Although subscription fees are expected to be very modest this year, companies such as Netflix and Amazon are still trying to find ways to get their hands on cricket content, indicating that there is still a lot of potential for the sport’s growth in the future.
It’s no secret that Jio has been making a big push into the advertising market. Their recent announcement that they will be offering cricket streaming on their Jio Cinema platform seems to be another step in this direction. It sounds like they have promised advertisers that the service will reach 400 million users, and concurrent user base of 100 million is nearly four times what the current records are. This could be a great way for brands to get their message out to a wider audience, and at an affordable price too!
Given that Jio Cinema boasts a subscriber base of only around 30 million, this suggests that there is significant potential for the platform to grow. With its low pricing and simultaneous access to over 400 million subscribers, Jio Cinema could provide a convenient way for customers to enjoy popular films and television shows.
Many industry executives doubt that a large number of smartphone users will be transitioning to streaming on their phones when they have the option to watch games on their satellite televisions. Many people view streaming as a luxury option and believe that most smartphone users will not want to pay for services they can get free from their television providers. Additionally, many people do not believe that mobile gaming is high enough in quality to warrant the additional expense of paying for streaming services.
While it is unclear at this point how well Jio Cinema will manage the technical demands of tens of millions of viewers tuning in to cricket matches, it seems that the service could be a big hit with fans.