JioCinema announces foray into original content with Jio Studios
Cricket IPL’s exclusive digital streaming partner JioCinema app is foraying into original content with Jio Studios’ recent announcement of 100+ movies, original web series, and mini-series, supposedly with an eye on turning the now free app into a paid service and earning a larger slice of the growing but challenging Indian streaming space.
Jio Studios, the media and content arm of Reliance Industries, unveiled a slate of over 100+ stories across genres of films, original web series, and mini-originals across Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati, south Indian languages, and Bhojpuri, on Wednesday in Mumbai.
Besides, the studio has also entered a multi-year, multi-film deal with West Bengal’s popular studio SVF Entertainment for content involving big names such as Mithun Chakraborty and Dhrubo Banerjee among others.
As eyeball-magnet cricket IPL has been drawing record numbers of viewers to Reliance Industries’ thus far low-key streaming app, JioCinema has its sights set on premiering at least some of its web originals soon, when it still has IPL viewers, and charging users for it.
The money-spinner of a cricketing tournament Tata IPL is being played between March 31 and May 28, 2023. Reliance-backed Viacom18 bagged the tournament’s digital rights for Rs 23,758 crore, and is airing it for free on JioCinema – a move that experts have seen as a way to get more viewers to its platform before it can start charging them.
It claims to have had over 375 crore views in the opening week, with the first weekend alone amassing 147 crore views.
JioCinema’s big plans for its OTT business, backed by deep-pocketed parent Reliance Industries, come while global giants such as Netflix and Disney+ Hotstar have been facing a tough time in India amid global headwinds.
Besides, JioCinema is locked in an intense battle with Disney Star. JioCinema not only pipped former IPL rights holder Disney+ Hotstar to win the digital rights for the 2023-27 cycle, but with Disney Star continuing to hold the TV rights, a larger TV versus digital contest is playing out in this IPL season.
BCCI split the IPL broadcasting rights into digital and TV packages for the first time from the 2023-27 cycle. Until last year, TV and digital IPL rights were a bundled deal that was held by Star India (now renamed as Disney Star under a new owner) and its streaming app Disney+ Hotstar. For the 2023-27 cycle, Disney Star won India TV rights for a bid of Rs 23,575 crore and Reliance-backed Viacom18 (which owns JioCinema app) bagged digital rights for Rs 23,758 crore.
“We are in the most exciting and eventful phase of Indian entertainment, with storytelling taking center stage in an era of explosive digital disruption. Since its inception five years ago, Jio Studios has worked very hard to lay solid foundations in scaling what is traditionally a very fragmented industry,” Jyoti Deshpande, President – RIL Media and Content Business, had said in a press note.
The conglomerate is in the midst of building synergies in its multi-pronged media businesses. And Deshpande is spearheading efforts as CEO of Viacom18, which has a content arm Jio Studios; distribution business Viacom18 that includes 59 channels, two OTT platforms JioCinema and Voot, movie & digital content production and distribution vertical Viacom18 Studios, experiential entertainment Integrated Network Solutions and merchandising arm Viacom18 Consumer Products; and the platform’s business of Jio mobility and fiber-to-home.
Source: BT, ET, FT, mint.
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