JioCinema, a Reliance-backed over-the-top (OTT) platform in India, has announced a subscription plan for its premium English content at INR999 (around $13) per year. The move follows a tie-up with Warner Bros Discovery to stream HBO content on the platform. The announcement means that while content from Warner Bros, Max Original and HBO will be available under subscription, Indian Premier League matches and Hindi movie titles will continue to be available for free. Experts noted that an advertising-led model with free content was not sustainable and that JioCinema will have to increase its paid content to attract subscribers. Viacom18, which owns JioCinema, is reportedly in talks with various production studios and plans to introduce TV shows and movies in Hindi and other languages on the platform in the coming months. Rival platform Disney+ Hotstar saw an 8% sequential drop in paid subscribers in Q1 2021, its largest decline to date, after losing IPL from the platform and breaking up with Warner Bros Discovery.
#JioCinema #paid #service #cheapest #premium #plan
Reliance-backed over-the-top (OTT) platform JioCinema, part of the Viacom18 network, on Saturday announced its subscription plan for the Indian audience at Rs 999 a year for premium English content. A few weeks back, it had tied up with Warner Bros Discovery to stream HBO content such as Game of Thrones and Succession on its platform. HBO content was earlier being streamed on Disney+ Hotstar.
While content from Warner Bros, Max Original and HBO will be available under subscription, Indian Premier League (IPL) matches and Hindi movie titles such as Vikram Vedha continue to be available for free on the app. A single subscription will give users the ability to watch across four devices simultaneously in the highest video and audio quality, JioCinema said in its subscription page on the app.
Sector experts say the need to go paid was necessary for JioCinema, since an advertising-led model, which comes with free content, was not sustainable for long. Viacom18 had paid Rs 23,758 crore for the IPL digital rights for the 2023-27 media cycle.
Disney Star had paid Rs 23,575 crore for the TV rights of the T20 tournament for the same period.
“Offering the IPL for free was intended to bring scale to JioCinema. They have achieved that with the first five weeks of the IPL this year, crossing over 13 billion video views,” said Karan Taurani, senior vice-president, research, at Mumbai-based brokerage Elara Capital, adding, “However, there is a realisation within the Viacom18 management that this model is not sustainable for long given the high-cost of acquisition of content such as IPL and premium English and Hindi shows and films.”
While Rs 999, said Taurani, is at the lower end of the Rs 1,000-2,000 price band of premium annual plans by rivals such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ Hotstar, it may not result in a big shift in terms of paid subscribers for JioCinema. This is because of the limited content that is part of the subscription plan.
Experts said JioCinema will have to beef up its content if it wishes to have a meaningful base of paid subscribers. For instance, rival Disney+ Hotstar is already feeling the pinch of a dearth of meaningful content on its app after the exit of IPL from the platform and the recent break-up with Warner Bros Discovery. Disney+ Hotstar reported an 8% sequential drop in paid subscribers in the January-March period, its biggest decline to date, to touch 52.9 million users versus the December 2022 quarter’s 57.5 million users, its latest results showed. “Indian audiences are value-driven and may not pay so much for HBO and Warner Bros. content only. JioCinema will have to increase its paid content over time to attract subscribers,” Taurani said.
Experts said Viacom18 is already at work here, with the management in talks with various production studios, beside plans to introduce TV shows and movies on the platform in the coming months in Hindi and other languages.