Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s streaming platform JioCinema announced premium pricing of 999 Indian rupees ($12) a year, its first step to move away from a free content model to fight global rivals such as Netflix and Disney in the country.
The move comes weeks after a Reliance’s Viacom18 struck a content deal with Warner Bros, that will make available popular HBO and Warner titles such as Succession and those featuring the character Harry Potter on the JioCinema platform.
The JioCinema website on Saturday showed the new premium pricing for Hollywood content, with the much-awaited Succession series available for streaming.
Several of HBO’s top-rated shows, including Succession, had aired in India on the Disney Hotstar platform until March 31 as part of a deal between the two companies that ended on that date.
JioCinema has become popular for showing the IPL cricket tournament on the platform for free in the ongoing season. The new pricing, according to the website, is only for premium content, while the matches continue to stream for free.
Viacom18 won the IPL digital streaming rights from 2023 to 2027 for around $2.9 billion, rights which Disney previously held.
Ambani has a reputation of disrupting rivals in the price-sensitive Indian market with cheap offers.
Karan Taurani, a senior vice president of India’s Elara Capital specialising in the media and entertainment sectors, said Reliance’s streaming offer price was at the lower end versus rivals that but more content would be needed to succeed.
“Only with pure play HBO content you may not get a large scale (of customers) … 999 definitely is at the lower end of the band, many of the other platforms, they are all in the range of 1,000 plus and it goes up to 2,000” rupees, he said.
JioCinema is in talks with various production studios and has plans to introduce dozens of TV shows and movies on the platform in the coming months, in Hindi and other languages, Reuters reported last month.