Apple's 'Jio act' may disrupt domestic OTT market with low monthly tariffs

Topics Apple  | OTT

Apple announces cheaper streaming service days after JioFiber launch
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 Rs 4,500-crore OTT market, which, according to audit firm PwC, could touch nearly Rs 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 Rs 699 to Rs 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 three-pronged 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 Rs 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 Rs 199 a month.

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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 Rs 100 crore on the second season of Sacred Games that launched last month, part of the Rs 600 crore earmarked for content production this year, audit firm KPMG said.

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