JioCinema Breaks World Record with 3.2 Crore Viewers on IPL Final
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On Monday, India’s JioCinema beat a long-standing record set by Disney’s Hotstar for the most people watching a live streamed event at the same time. This is part of Asian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s push to grow his digital business.
The final match of the 16th edition of the Indian Premier League cricket tournament, between Chennai Super Kings and Gujarat Titans, was watched by more than 32 million people at the same time on an Indian streaming site that is backed by James Murdoch’s Bodhi Tree.
In July 2019, a cricket match on Hotstar was watched by an amazing 25.3 million people at the same time. This was a high point for the platform and set a record that was not broken for several years. But when the platform switched the IPL streaming service to a paid model, it struggled to beat this mark in the years that followed. This showed how hard it is to balance reach and income in the streaming industry.
Viacom18 seems to be taking a page from Hotstar’s past approach and heading in a similar direction. In a strategic shift last year, the Indian entertainment giant, whose biggest investor is Ambani’s Reliance, beat Disney in a $3 billion bidding war for the digital rights to the famous IPL for the next five years, until 2027.
As part of its streaming plan, Viacom18’s JioCinema app is letting people in South Asia watch the tournament for free. Analysts say this could change the way digital streaming works in the region.
JioCinema just released a premium tier. Jio telecom network users can also get free access to the basic content on the service. Since last month, users can choose to pay 999 Indian rupees ($12) for an annual premium plan that gives them access to a wider range of material.
In the past few weeks, Viacom18 has made deals with foreign entertainment giants Warner Bros. and NBCUniversal to make its premium offering more appealing to people who might want to subscribe.
Even though there are problems, Disney is still having a lot of success. The international giant is showing the game on satellite TV in India. The first 66 games have been seen by a total of 482 million people, according to figures from the Broadcast Audience Research Council, an industry group.