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707 Million Viewers Strong: Reliance-Hotstar JV Aims For OTT Domination

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707 Million Viewers Strong: Reliance-Hotstar JV Aims For OTT Domination

Ever opened your phone to catch the latest web series, only to find yourself confused by the vast number of streaming services available? Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar, HBO Max, etc. The world of OTT (over-the-top) streaming is booming, and viewers are spoilt for choice – but for content providers, the competition is fierce.

One company looking to make a significant mark in this crowded space is Reliance Industries, the Indian telecom giant. With its JioCinema platform firmly established, Reliance recently made a strategic move by merging it with Disney+ Hotstar, acquiring a majority stake in the popular streaming service. This combined entity, with a valuation of a whopping ₹70,352 crore ($8.5 billion) on a post-money basis, is expected to be a game-changer in the Indian OTT landscape, but can it truly challenge the established players? Let’s find out.

Reliance-Hotstar JV: A Powerhouse in the Making

The merger brings together two strong contenders. JioCinema, backed by Reliance’s massive subscriber base of over 420 million Jio users, boasts a strong regional content library. Disney+ Hotstar, on the other hand, is a global giant with a vast library of international shows, movies, and critically acclaimed originals. Combining these strengths creates a formidable force, offering a diverse content library catering to various audiences.

The Numbers Game

The combined subscriber base of JioCinema and Hotstar is estimated to be around 150 million, making it the most significant player in the Indian OTT market. This sheer scale gives Reliance a considerable advantage in negotiating content rights and potentially influencing production costs. Additionally, bundling subscriptions with Jio’s telecom services, which boasts over 420 million users, could further incentivize user adoption.

However, it’s important to remember that subscriber numbers aren’t the only story. According to a recent report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) in collaboration with Kantar, a staggering 707 million internet users in India, which is about 86% of the country’s internet base, consume video and audio streaming services – making it the top use case for internet consumption. This highlights the immense potential of the Indian OTT market but also underscores the fierce competition for viewers’ attention.

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Source: Internet in India Report 2023 by IAMAI – Kantar

Interestingly, the report also revealed a shift in viewing habits, with more people (208 million) accessing video content over internet-only devices like smartphones and smart TVs compared to traditional linear television (181 million). JioCinema states it has around 125 million monthly active users on connected television devices, indicating a strong presence in this growing segment.

Source: Internet in India Report 2023 by IAMAI – Kantar

Content is King, Exclusivity is the Ace

The Reliance-Hotstar merger goes beyond just numbers. The joint venture (JV) will also be granted exclusive rights to distribute Disney films and productions in India, with a license to more than 30,000 Disney content assets. This exclusive access to popular Disney content, combined with the existing library of both platforms, strengthens the merged entity’s position in the content race.

On the television front, the JV will bring together a massive network of about 120 channels, including popular entertainment channels like Colors, Star Plus, and Star Gold, and leading sports channels like Star Sports and Sports18. Reliance claims that the JV will have over 750 million viewers across India and the Indian diaspora, showcasing its potential reach beyond the domestic market.

Challenges and the Road Ahead

While the Reliance-Hotstar merger is undoubtedly a significant development in the Indian OTT landscape, the road to dominance isn’t without its hurdles. Retaining and attracting new subscribers requires more than numbers and exclusive content. Content quality, user experience, and innovative marketing strategies will be crucial factors in determining the success of the merged entity. Additionally, competition from established players like Netflix and Amazon, with their deep pockets and global reach, cannot be ignored.

The future of Indian OTT is undoubtedly promising, with the Reliance-Hotstar merger marking a significant step towards a more consolidated and competitive landscape. However, only time will tell if this merger will truly propel Reliance to the top of the Indian streaming game and how effectively it can navigate the challenges.

Read More: Nifty Indices

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I’m Archana R. Chettiar, an experienced content creator with
an affinity for writing on personal finance and other financial content. I
love to write on equity investing, retirement, managing money, and more.

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