Ap­ple’s ‘Jio act’ may dis­rupt do­mes­tic OTT mar­ket

An­nounces cheaper stream­ing ser­vice days af­ter Jiofiber launch

Business Standard - - FRONT PAGE - VIVEAT SU­SAN PINTO & ARNAB DUTTA

The launch of the over-the-top (OTT) ser­vice by Ap­ple Inc will pit it against Amer­i­can ri­vals Net­flix and Ama­zon Prime Video, apart from other key play­ers such as Hot­star, JIOTV, Altbalaji and Voot. Most ex­ist­ing play­ers have been in­vest­ing heav­ily in In­dia's nearly ~4,500-crore OTT mar­ket, which, ac­cord­ing to au­dit firm PWC, could touch nearly ~12,000 crore in five years.

The move comes days af­ter Reliance In­dus­tries' tele­com arm, Reliance Jio, an­nounced the com­mer­cial launch of its fi­bre-to-the-home ser­vice, Jiofiber, across 1,600 cities and towns. Jio, whose plans range from ~699 to ~8,499 a month, is also go­ing for the bundling of its pack­ages with sev­eral OTT play­ers.

The Cu­per­tino-based tech ma­jor, though a late OTT en­trant, has a three­p­ronged strat­egy to widen reach, say ex­perts. It will launch its OTT ser­vice in Novem­ber on all its de­vices from the iphone to ipad, ipod and imac at ~99 a month. A yearly sub­scrip­tion will come free to in­duce tri­als. In ad­di­tion, Ap­ple TV+ will be made avail­able on the Ama­zon fire stick, and also through web browsers on per­sonal com­put­ers. The ser­vice will also be launched on se­lect Sam­sung Smart TVS thanks to a global tie-up with the lat­ter, in­formed sources have told Busi­ness Stan­dard.

Sam­sung was not im­me­di­ately avail­able for com­ment.

Plans are also in place to launch on LG and Sony Smart TVS, im­ply­ing that Ap­ple is go­ing all-out to woo con­sumers at a time when ri­vals such as Net­flix have launched mo­bile-only plans for the In­dia mar­ket, start­ing at ~199 a month.

Faisal Ka­woosa, founder and chief an­a­lyst, techarc, says Ap­ple’s OTT play is a huge bet and ties in with the com­pany’s larger plan of in­creas­ing its base of users in In­dia, where it com­petes with play­ers such as One­plus, Sam­sung and Xiaomi. One­plus and Sam­sung are the top two play­ers in the pre­mium smart­phone mar­ket.

While Xiaomi and Sam­sung are the lead­ing smart­phone play­ers in the mass mar­ket, data from IDC shows.

“The OTT mar­ket is a boom­ing space in In­dia and the idea is to give con­sumers one more rea­son to try out its de­vices with an all-round play that spans hard­ware and soft­ware,” Kawaoosa says. Ap­ple’s base of iphone users in In­dia is es­ti­mated to be 10 mil­lion, a frac­tion of the nearly 600 mil­lion iphone users it has glob­ally.

But some ex­perts say that Ap­ple’s OTT ser­vice could take off on its own as the tech ma­jor de­cides to lo­calise con­tent. “Lo­cal­i­sa­tion of con­tent is some­thing that Ap­ple could look at in the fu­ture given that In­dia is dif­fer­ent from other mar­kets,” says Han­ish Bha­tia, se­nior an­a­lyst, de­vices and ecosys­tem, Coun­ter­point Re­search.

“Global play­ers such as Net­flix and Ama­zon Prime Video have had to take that route in In­dia,” he says. Ap­ple, say in­formed sources, could look at con­tent lo­cal­i­sa­tion in the next two years af­ter the ini­tial launch phase is over. Net­flix is es­ti­mated to have spent ~100 crore on the sec­ond sea­son of Sa­cred Games, part of the ~600 crore ear­marked for con­tent pro­duc­tion this year, au­dit firm KPMG said.

PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Tim Cook, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Ap­ple, speaks about Ap­ple TV+ dur­ing an event in Cu­per­tino, Cal­i­for­nia, on Tues­day. Ap­ple said its TV+ orig­i­nal video sub­scrip­tion ser­vice will launch on Novem­ber 1

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