Reliance absorbs 3 units that own Jio apps, to build single media team
Reliance Industries has subsumed Reliance Jio Digital Services, Reliance Jio Media and Reliance Jio Messaging Services in an endeavour to make Reliance Jio a pure telecom company
New Delhi: Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has subsumed three wholly owned subsidiaries, which owned at least half-a-dozen Reliance Jio apps, into the parent company effective 1 April with the aim of building a single in-house media team, two people aware of the development said.
“All the app companies have been moved to RIL... for example, JioChat was a separate legal entity under Reliance Jio Messaging Services...now moved to RIL,” one of the persons cited above said, on condition of anonymity.
Reliance Jio Digital Services Pvt. Ltd, Reliance Jio Media Pvt. Ltd, and Reliance Jio Messaging Services Pvt. Ltd—all wholly owned subsidiaries of RIL—ran apps such as MyJio, Jio4Gvoice, JioTV, JioMusic, JioChat, JioMags, and JioCinema.
“The idea is that Reliance Jio (Infocomm Ltd) would purely be telecom (related)...rest everything in RIL...effective 1 April,” the person added.
An email sent to Reliance Jio remained unanswered till press time.
The move also comes close on the heels of RIL’s latest string of acquisitions in the content space.
Last month, RIL announced an integration with leading music app Saavn for its digital music service JioMusic, with the JioMusic’s implied valuation in the combined $1-billion entity estimated at $670 million.
Before this, in February, Reliance Industries announced that it would buy a 5% stake in film company Eros International Plc.
“The idea is...we are building a new in-house media team and all of the content ecosystem, including apps, would come under a single umbrella...eventually, maybe, even Network18,” the second person cited above said, also on condition that he isn’t named.
Jyoti Deshpande, a former group chief executive officer and managing director at Eros, who has joined as the head of the media and entertainment business at Reliance Industries, is currently driving the company’s initiatives to build businesses around the content ecosystem such as broadcasting, films, sports, music, digital, gaming and animation.
Last week, Reliance Jio also announced the launch of a live mobile game ‘Jio Cricket Play Along’ and a comedy-meets-cricket show ‘Jio Dhan Dhana Dhan LIVE’.
While ‘Jio Cricket Play Along’ can be accessed by all smartphone users in India, ‘Jio Dhan Dhana Dhan LIVE’ would have original live episodes, releasing every Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the MyJio app.
In July last year, RIL acquired a 24.92% stake in Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Telefilms Ltd in a deal worth Rs413.28 crore, an investment that Balaji said would be utilized to speed up content development initiatives, especially for its subscription-based online streaming service ALTBalaji, to compete with other OTT (over-the-top) service providers.
Reliance Jio entered the telecom sector in September 2016 with free offerings and later announced ultra-cheap tariffs, which hit the revenue streams of other operators including market leader Bharti Airtel.
With data tariffs falling, consumption has soared. According to data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), for October-December 2017, the average data usage per subscriber per month was 1,945MB, much higher than 878MB in October-December 2016.
To cash in on this growing data consumption, Reliance Jio’s rival Airtel, too, has inked deals with OTT platforms with Airtel TV featuring content from Hooq, Eros Now, and Hotstar.
Last month, Airtel and ALTBalaji announced a partnership to bring digital content from the latter’s portfolio to Airtel TV app users. This comes after Airtel in December launched a new version of its Airtel TV app with a wider content offering and a new user interface.