JioCinema’s Rs89 Plan Targets Netflix, Prime

JioCinema’s Rs89 Plan Targets Netflix, Prime

The tussle for capturing eyeballs around India’s fast-growing OTT space has brewed for a few years. But, today home grown JioCinema launched a broadside on global rivals Netflix and Prime Video by introducing new monthly subscription plans that cost just Rs.89 a month for four simultaneous screens that block ads, streams in 4K and allows offline viewing too. 

In global currency terms, the company is offering all of the above for just one dollar. And in case that’s too much, there is a single-screen access for Rs.29 a month, which obviously aims at the masses. Given the growing internet penetration for which Jio itself is a contributor, the Mukesh Ambani-led company is now virtually sealing off the OTT market for itself. 

Redefining premium entertainment for urban and rural folk

The company says it aims to “redefine the narrative of premium entertainment” with these new subscription plans where the only difference concerns the number of screens one can access it from. Over the years, India’s growing internet penetration coupled with smartphone usage has brought a totally new class of customers for streaming media. 

Whether in the big cities or in smaller towns, users often tie their mobile telephony subscription to internet usage and thereafter add subscriptions to streaming services. Until recently, it was only YouTube that benefited from this movie, but it looks like now Asia’s richest man and his group is going after this massive chunk of viewers who are seldom captured by the traditional means of monitoring screens and video views. 

“Creating and building an entertainment ecosystem with a product that is made for every Indian household, is not just a business strategy, but a vision to empower our country and users with an unmatched entertainment experience,” said Kiran Mani, CEO of Viacom18 Digital, in a statement. 

JioCinema has carefully built up its content repository

However, it is not as if JioCinema is going after only the rural masses. Their Premium service includes access to almost everything else on the platform that includes a massive content repository from HBO, Peacock, Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery. It is here that Ambani’s business acumen comes to the fore – customer segmentation at its best.  

Barely twelve months ago, JioCinema had come up with an annual premium package with a global catalogue of content that was made available at Rs.999 a year. Viacom18, the parent company of JioCinema, has now discounted this tier and those who subscribed would get auto-switched to the new plan. 

No ads-free coverage of IPL – at least not this year

The company, which received brickbats upon entering the live sports segment with the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar due to poor streaming quality, quickly fixed the issue and then went ahead to capture cricketing rights for both India’s international fixtures at home as well as the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL), where the Ambanis own a cricket team. 

However, the company has noted that the IPL coverage this year would be free though one would have to bear with the advertisements. For now, it appears that the premium tier would not remove the ads from live sports content. Possibly because the ad slots might have already been sold based on screen views and there’s no way to renege on the contract. Come 2025, brace yourself to pay premium fares for an ad-free watch. 

Viacom18-HotStar merger triggered the move

As mentioned earlier, the battle for OTT supremacy in India has been simmering for some time. It came to the fore some months ago when the Reliance owned Viacom18 merged its media business with Disney’s India entertainment business. The combined venture is now valued at over $8.5 billion. 

Those numbers themselves are quite big, but when you come to realize that this joint entity could actually capture 85% of India’s on-demand streaming service audience as well as half the satellite television viewers, the heart skips a beat. Elsewhere, such a deal would definitely have got the antitrust brigade to raise a flag. 

Whether the Competition Commission of India (CCI) considers it or the recent price dip as against competition or not, only time will tell. Suffice to say that JioCinema is undercutting rivals Netflix and Prime Video, given that its $1 price is way below what Netflix ($2.40) and Prime Video ($2.15) charge in India. 

Both Netflix and Prime Video have invested considerable funds in creating India specific content – be it feature films or web series over the past few years. The financial muscle that the Ambanis have in the entertainment field could well result in more content creators going with them after ditching the “foreign” companies for local brands. Afterall, Mukesh Ambani has for long articulated the need to build an Atma Nirbhar Bharat! 

 

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