JioCinema to tweak pricing and focus on local content after Reliance-Warner deal


Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani’s video streaming business is likely to tweak pricing and focus on local content following the deal with Warner Bros, as it seeks to challenge the likes of Disney and Netflix in India, industry sources said. Is.

Under the content deal announced on Thursday, popular series from HBO and Warner Bros, such as Harry Potter and Succession, will be available from next month on the JioCinema platform, which Ambani’s Viacom18 promoted for weeks by offering popular IPL cricket matches for free Is.

An industry source said a pricing strategy for JioCinema is still under discussion internally, but Ambani has a reputation for disrupting rivals with cheap offers in the price-sensitive Indian market. In 2016, he offered mobile data for free, making his Jio telecom service India’s top player. It is adopting a similar strategy to promote its consumer goods to take on rivals Coca-Cola and Nestle.

Viacom18, the broadcast division of Ambani’s Reliance Industries, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Its shareholders include Paramount Global as well as Bodhi Tree, a joint venture between James Murdoch and former top Disney executive, Uday Shankar.

The Warner deal, industry executives and media analysts said, will boost Viacom18’s previously announced plans to “innovate and disrupt” the sector, and help attract premium English-speaking audiences in India.

At stake is a slice of the video streaming market, which is expected to grow 22%-25% annually to reach $13-$15 billion by 2030, according to a 2021 report by Indian lobby group CII and Boston Consulting Group.

That compares to an estimated annual growth of 8.63% in the US market, which is expected to reach $54.66 billion by 2027, according to Statista.

While Netflix and other rivals boast of content made specifically for audiences in India, JioCinema’s current free offerings largely consist of older Hindi and local language movies. In sports, it has IPL cricket streaming rights till 2027 and in March bagged exclusive rights for MotoGP in India.

The bigger challenge is the lack of fresh local and global content on JioCinema, something that will become all the more important as the IPL season ends next month.

JioCinema is in talks with various production studios and plans to introduce dozens of TV shows and movies in Hindi and other languages ​​on the platform in the coming months, a second industry source told Reuters on Friday.

“There are many Indians within India. While IPL is for the masses, the partnership with Warner is a precursor to JioCinema entering the premium subscription segment,” said Mihir Shah, Vice President, Media Partners Asia.

Nitesh Kriplani, former country head of Amazon’s Prime Video in India, said he expects the Reliance venture to do more such deals, but pricing is key.

“India is a value conscious market. For any media business, anywhere in the world – you need to receive payment from consumers. Advertising can only pay for so much,” he said.

Netflix, Amazon and Disney Hotstar have become popular in India by launching exclusive movies and web series with Bollywood actors. They have also diversified into regional vernacular content.

Currently Netflix – which has the most expensive subscription plans – has just 8 million subscribers, Amazon has 17 million, while Disney, which previously had the digital rights to the IPL, leads the way with 49 million, according to Media Partners , which does not have data for JioCinema’s free service.

Karan Taurani, vice president of India’s Elara Capital, laments that JioCinema’s success will depend on the quality of its content.

“They can make so many movies and series but (what if) more than 70-80% of them bomb? The only way to scale up is to really differentiate your content and make sure the execution is right,” he said.

, reuters

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