Reliance-owned JioCinema is set to begin charging users for its content after the end of the Indian Premier League, despite continuing to offer free streaming of the cricket tournament. JioCinema plans to expand its offerings with over 100 films and TV series to compete with global players like Netflix and Disney. Jyoti Deshpande, President of Reliance's media and content business, stated in an interview with Bloomberg that the pricing strategy is still being finalised, but the platform aims to "keep tariffs simple for viewers".
While JioCinema aims to become a catalyst for the cross-pollination of talent and provide Indian content, India is a price-conscious market that has pushed Netflix to cut prices to gain traction. Additionally, regional OTT platforms command a good subscriber base as they cater to local cinema-goers.
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The expansion will coincide with JioCinema's plan to charge for content, but IPL matches will continue to be available for free until the tournament ends on May 28. The platform has already garnered millions of viewers during the IPL matches, with the Chennai Super Kings versus Rajasthan Royals match breaking records with 22 million concurrent viewers.
Disney Star and Viacom18 are broadcasting the matches on television and digital platforms, respectively, with Viacom18's JioCinema clocking over 147 crore video views during the tournament's opening weekend. JioCinema has become one of the largest OTT platforms in the country due to offering users the ability to stream IPL for free.
The Indian Premier League has also broken television records, with Disney Star airing the matches on over 20 channels. The first 10 games of the tournament have accumulated 62.3 billion minutes of watch time, and the opening match had a peak concurrency of 56 million viewers. One of the best things that JioCinema did was allow users to watch IPL in 4K for free.