Mukesh Ambani, the richest person in Asia, distributes free 4K TVs
NEW DELHI: three years after entering the Indian wireless phone market with free calls and data, billionaire Mukesh Ambani is back on that.
This time, the richest man in Asia is delivering televisions to engage users in movies and entertainment programs over the Internet. It is looking to take advantage of a burgeoning business in the second most populous country in the world, where companies, from mobile phone operators to Netflix Inc and Amazon.com Inc, face to offer content.
Ambani's JioFiber broadband service, scheduled to start Thursday across India, comes with a high-definition TV and set-top boxes free of charge for annual subscribers for life. The offer of Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, the tycoon's wireless power, includes subscriptions to most premium streaming services with prices starting at Rs 700 (around $ 10) per month.
TV fiber saving occurs days after Jio formally entered the number 1 place for wireless services after free calls and cheap data attracted hundreds of millions of subscribers and left rivals Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Idea Ltd fighting under a growing debt. Airtel, backed by tycoon Sunil Mittal, and the idea of billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla are also trying to attract users by offering access to TV content and movies.
According to researcher Boston Consulting Group, the video-on-demand market in India could grow to $ 5 billion by 2023 from $ 500 million last year, according to researcher Boston Consulting Group. The growth potential is fueling intense competition between production houses, operators and Bollywood transmission services. Paid subscribers will likely increase to 50 million, while video on demand users with advertising will reach 600 million, BCG predicts.
The expansion of the services with the fiber broadband network by Reliance Jio is also part of Ambani’s ambitions to dominate the Indian consumer market as he pivots from energy and petrochemicals to build an e-commerce business rivaling Amazon.com.
To gain advantage in the broadcast business against well-funded competitors such as Netflix, Amazon.com and Hotstar from Walt Disney Co, Jio will have to go beyond offering cheaper access through integrated services, said Shailesh Kapoor, founder and CEO Consulting based in Mumbai Ormax Media Pvt.
Until now, the telecommunications company has relied on alliances with TV and movie producers to provide content for its service packages. JioFiber will also include movies that subscribers can watch the same day they are released in theaters, Ambani said in a speech presenting the plan on August 12. That part of the service will not begin until the middle of next year. He said.
JioFiber, which Ambani said is offered at less than a tenth of the global rates, can also interrupt so-called OTT or over-the-top players, those who stream media over the Internet such as Netflix, if Jio produces its own content and hire the best talent for that, said Kapoor.
Airtel, Mittal's operator brand, can receive the most direct competitive hit from JioFiber because, along with content packages for its mobile services, it is one of the largest television service providers in the country. The company's digital television segment accounted for about 12% of profits for the year ending March, according to data collected by the Bloomberg program.
In a possible attempt to anticipate the formal presentation of JioFiber, Airtel presented on Tuesday updated versions of its decoder and the Airtel Xstream Stick, a USB device that allows an ordinary TV to access OTT applications such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube, along with other content offers from Airtel.
Satellite providers such as Tata Sky Ltd and Dish TV India Ltd, as well as movie theaters, also face competition from Jio, which will offer fiber TV packages with its mobile services and free landlines.
Dish TV shares have fallen 8.2% since Ambani released the plans, compared with a 2.3% decrease in the Su0026P BSE sensex benchmark. INOX Leisure Ltd, a chain of movie theaters, has fallen 7.2%.