Reliance Jio to enter original content production (reports)

Indian telco Reliance Jio is planning a big push into the production of original content with partners including Vikram Bhatt, Roy Kapur Films and AltBalaji, according to a report in FactorDaily.

While Jio’s low cost data plans helped kickstart India’s online video boom in late 2016, the company now aims to increase its competitiveness against streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Hotstar, which all produce Indian-language shows.

“There is so much video content out there for streaming…but with original and exclusive content, the viewer will always come back to one platform,” a source close to Reliance Jio told FactorDaily.

According to the report, the telco is already in talks with Bhatt, a leading Bollywood filmmaker who has produced two web series for PCCW’s streaming service Viu, and Roy Kapur Films, founded by former Disney India managing director Siddharth Roy Kapur. Content will be produced in in Hindi and regional languages and span movies, TV dramas, music videos, clips and trailers and short films.

The ambitious telco is also reportedly talking to streaming services including Arre and AltBalaji about jointly producing content that will be exclusive to Jio and the partners’ respective platforms. Jio owns a 25% stake in AltBalaji, which it acquired from local production house Balaji Telefilms for $65m in July 2017.

Jio also appears to be taking on YouTube, India’s biggest online video platform, by experimenting with short videos on subjects including food, travel and education.

While India’s streaming market is brutally competitive, Jio’s two video services, JioTV and JioMovies, reach a wider audience in rural areas than Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. The deep-pocketed telco, owned by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, has around 124 million subscribers and a 10% share of India’s mobile phone user base.

Amazon and Netflix have both made multiple announcements about producing mostly Hindi-language web series and comedy shows. Amazon’s first drama series, Inside Edge, set in the world of T20 cricket, launched six months ago.

According to Indian business paper Mint, Reliance Jio is also talking to India’s biggest local streaming service, Hotstar, about collaborating on content production. Hotstar, which already produces original content, is owned by Star India, so is in the process of becoming part of the Walt Disney Co empire, following its acquisition of rival studio 21st Century Fox.