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JioCinema, the Indian streaming service, launches 35-cent tier to box out Netflix and Prime Video

In Technology
April 25, 2024

JioCinema, the popular Indian on-demand video-streaming service, introduced a new monthly subscription plan on Wednesday, with the lowest tier costing just 35 cents. The revamp in the pricing strategy comes as the market-leading service seeks to exert greater pressure on rivals including Netflix and Prime Video and “redefine the narrative of premium entertainment.”

The service — backed by Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani — introduced two monthly tiers: Indian rupees 89 ($1), featuring support for four simultaneous screen access, and Rs 29, with single-screen access. Apart from the simultaneous viewing, both tiers offer identical features, including an ad-free experience, the ability to stream in 4K, and download for offline viewing.

JioCinema Premium subscribers will be able to enjoy the ad-free experience across the platform, including on the ongoing popular cricket tournament, the Indian Premier League, a spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch. JioCinema Premium also includes access to everything else on the platform, which includes a vast library of content from Peacock, HBO, Paramount, and Warner Bros. Discovery.

JioCinema had launched an annual premium tier with the international catalog at Rs 999 last year. Viacom18, the parent firm of JioCinema, is discontinuing the earlier tier, and those who had subscribed to it will be automatically switched over to the new plan, according to the spokesperson.

The service will also continue to offer ad-supported streaming of the cricket tournament at no charge, the spokesperson added.

The revamp in the pricing follows Ambani’s Reliance — which owns the majority of Viacom18merging its media business with the local unit of Disney earlier this year. The joint venture, whose value has been pegged at $8.5 billion, stands to capture 85% of India’s on-demand streaming service audience and about half of the TV viewers, according to analysts. Disney operates the popular streaming service Hotstar in India and Southeast Asia.

JioCinema is also undercutting rivals Netflix and Prime Video with its new 35-cent premium tier, a fraction of their cheapest plans priced at $2.40 and $2.15, respectively, in India.

Reliance and Disney also agreed two years ago to spend about $6 billion on the five-year streaming and broadcasting rights of Indian Premier League. Though Viacom18 plans to continue to offer an ad-supported IPL streaming experience at no charge to consumers, it does plan to recover much of the investment it has made in the next three years.

“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 Premium aims to redefine the narrative of premium entertainment for every Indian while building a daily viewing habit.”

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