Home/ Industry / Media/  Will RIL’s latest content splash boost JioCinema subscription?

Jio Studios, a unit of Reliance Industries Ltd, may invest as much as 3,000 crore to boost Jio Cinema’s subscription and advertising revenues, according to the estimates of three film trade experts.

Earlier this month, Jio Studios announced a plan to create a repertoire of 100 movies and web originals to bolster the streaming platform’s standing and retain customer engagement after the end of the Indian Premier League (IPL) season.

The company started work on several movie projects in the pre-pandemic days and is now likely to directly stream a few on its OTT platform, and some others may be released in theatres. JioCinema is considering a nominal subscription fee for the movies at a fraction of what rivals charge. It is looking to keep the charges low, and play on the scale of Jio customers, said media industry experts. There are three expected plans — 99 per month, 499 annually and a daily plan of 2.

To start with, the company will premiere Shahid Kapoor-starrer Bloody Daddy directly on the platform in June. It also has other films and web originals ready for release, including those starring Rajkummar Rao, Vicky Kaushal and Vijay Sethupathi. In 2019, Reliance had said that it would release one film every week as its first-day-first-show offering.

“It’s pretty clear that they’ve been working on it for a while, and a lot of films were already lined up before the pandemic. But it seems that only 10% of its current slate is meant for theatres, where there is a need for box office validation, while the rest will be used to emerge as a major force in the Indian OTT market," said a film producer seeking anonymity.

While the firm may not face a funds crunch, it will have to carve a niche and be known for a certain kind of content if it wishes to stand out in this clutter, he said.

“Even Ullu app has a target audience because people identify it with adult content. But what about JioCinema?" he added. Besides Shah Rukh Khan’s Dunki, Jio has lined up a roster of mid-budget films featuring Kapoor, Rao, Kaushal and Sara Ali Khan.

When people are used to consuming content for free, they are often reluctant to pay, Yusuf Shaikh, business head, of feature films at production and distribution company Percept Pictures, said.

“Pricing certainly cannot be premium in this case, but it’s a good use of economies of scale. They’ve grabbed eyeballs thanks to the IPL and are looking to convert viewers into paid subscribers without spending much on publicity," Shaikh said.

While queries to Jio Studios did not elicit any answer, Jyoti Deshpande, president of RIL’s media and content business, had said earlier that Jio Studios worked very hard to lay solid foundations in scaling a very fragmented industry.

“Our vision is to power stories that are from, by and for India and Bharat and tell stories that not only entertain but also have a purpose. We partner with storytellers in every Indian language and take the stories mainstream. Our mission is to make in India and show the world is vast and inclusive and will ensure growth of the entire value chain."

Arjun Singgh Baran and Kartk D Nishandar, founders of GSEAMS, a studio making a show called Rafuchakkar for Jio, said the company has been working on this slate for the past three years.

“The idea is to look at content that can appeal to Hindi-speaking masses," Baran added.

The big game for the company is to scale up JioCinema, starting with the IPL and then movies and web shows, so it can emerge as a value add to Jio telco customers, said Karan Taurani, senior vice-president at Elara Capital Ltd.

“The entire content strategy is geared towards providing something new to the subscriber base at low costs. IPL is certainly not the end of it because Jio is chasing the OTT market seriously. One could always see bundled offers with Jio Fiber going forward," Taurani said, referring to Reliance’s broadband connection plans. So far, Voot, the video streaming service owned by Viacom18 in which Reliance Industries has a controlling stake, has not managed any brand or customer recall, Taurani added.

Lata Jha
Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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Updated: 26 Apr 2023, 12:33 AM IST
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