Mumbai: JioCinema’s debut for the IPL 2023 was a runaway success, with an epic opening weekend. The number of video viewers for the first weekend alone on JioCinema eclipsed what was recorded across the entire last season of Tata IPL on digital. This was also higher than the ICC T20 World Cup 2022.
The average time spent per viewer per match touched 57 minutes. The time spent per viewer per match on JioCinema increased by over 60 per cent compared to last season’s first weekend. JioCinema clocked over 147 crore video views, recording the highest-ever opening weekend for the Tata IPL on digital.
The OTT platform by Viacom18 registered over 2.5 crore downloads, a record for the most installed app in a single day. In addition to that, over six crore unique viewers tuned in for the first match – the Gujarat Titans vs Chennai Super Kings fixture, which achieved a peak concurrency of over 1.6 crore on JioCinema. The total match views on the first day on JioCinema touched 50 crore.
Indiantelevision.com spoke to Elara Capital senior vice president Karan Taurani about how consumers are taking to the fact that the IPL has moved from Hotstar to JioCinema, the kind of impact CTV viewing of the IPL through JioCinema has on linear TV viewers, and more.
Talking about IPL moving from Hotstar to JioCinema and discussing the experience of viewers, Elara Capital senior vice president Karan Taurani feels that the customer response so far has been mixed – it has not been a wow experience. “So, if you look at Hotstar, since the time they started IPL, they have a first mover advantage here in terms of the other broadcaster OTT apps. They have been far superior in terms of experience. I am not comparing it to Netflix wherein the consumption would be different, but here you have a lot of concurrent viewers on your platform. So, on the basis that Hotstar has been very much superior in terms of customer experience. JioCinema is obviously not better than them. It looks that it has been below par on the initial customer reviews and social media reviews that one can go through. But I believe that hopefully they will probably catch up and improve with time, because customer experience, on a large scale concurrent basis, comes with time and there will be lots of technical errors and glitches which might be rectified and going ahead the customer experience can become seamless or rather better.”
The impact CTV viewing of the IPL through JioCinema on linear TV consumers
Taurani elucidates, “For CTV, firstly, you have to look at it from a very different perspective. The universe of CTV is not more than somewhere around 25-30 million households. India as a country has close to 200 million households today – assuming that only 15 per cent of that is CTV, it’s a very small base for people to move from linear TV to CTV. Even in the CTV universe, if we dig deep, only maybe 40-50 per cent of the CTV universe has access to the best data plan of fibre broadband and others would have low-end plans or mid-end plans. But plans which are 150mbps and above would only be about 40-50 per cent of the CTV universe. So, putting everything into perspective, you have about 20 million CTV households which is about 10-12 per cent of the overall base, and within that only 40-50 per cent have access to high-speed broadband wherein they can watch the match seamlessly – so it’s a very small number. So you’re talking about 10-12 per cent of the smart TV number and maybe five to six per cent of the overall universe of TV households which would probably move away from linear TV and watch the match entirely on CTV. Even in that, if there are technical glitches from the app’s side, the user experience will be bad and the consumer might watch it on linear TV as well. The point that I’m trying to make is that it’s very tough to go only digital for a medium like sport which is live in nature where consumers don’t want any kind of glitch. So the potential for technical glitches is high here, because there could be a technical glitch from the app’s side, or from the broadband connection side as well. As far as DTH or cable for watching live sports is concerned, it is far superior and seamless.
Nonetheless, the point that I’m trying to make here is that firstly, the base is very small. And secondly, if at all there are glitches, you could see them on and off. So people are not going to do cord-cutting as far as sports is concerned. I think sports as a medium is here to stay on TV. Other mediums – English, infotainment, and movies put together – are witnessing pressure. But as far as sports and news are concerned which are consumed live in nature, without any kind of glitch and in a seamless manner, you have to have a linear TV connection.”
He goes on to add, “So a lion’s share is still with TV. If we see, we still have close to 182 million TV households, out of which around 140 million are pay TV, 30-35 million are FTA and the balance, about 20 million is CTV. So the shift is not happening from the MSO, DTH or FTA households. It is happening more from CTV households wherein 40-50 per cent of the universe which have high-speed broadband and is paying a hefty amount of cost, will move purely digital – but that too, if the experience is not seamless, would want to have a linear TV connection as well.”
The advantage of updated technology and features that JioCinema has rolled out to enhance viewership for IPL 2023
Taurani believes that the updated technology and features are great for JioCinema. “I think digital is the future. I think digital has two things - improved quality of content, you can move to 4k content. The number of 4k TVs is very small as a base but eventually, when the number of 4k TV penetration picks up, you can watch the match with a superior experience. And cricket and sports is that kind of content where you want the experience to be superior, so that is going to do wonders. But again 4k comes at a very hefty cost, the data speeds have to be much superior to what you would get right now. So I wonder what it would be in terms of the cost of the data and how many people would have that kind of connection of 150-200 mbps kind of speed with unlimited data without any sort of capping. I think it’s still a long way to go as far as 4k is concerned.”
He further adds, “The second is interactivity. Interactivity is something which Disney Star was also doing earlier, so there is nothing new added to it. But definitely, if there are people who want to interact with content, there are people who like interactive stuff like different camera views, angles etc., I think that is the future definitely. This, unfortunately, cannot be replicated on TV. DTH companies are trying to do something on the interactive side, still very early days for them. But if they are able to do something on the interactive side, it would be a win-win. But for now, digital seems to have a stronger proposition as far as interactivity is concerned. So these are the only two things that stand out as an edge over TV. But like I said, 4k numbers are too small, data costs for watching on 4k would be phenomenally high and the number of people having a 300 mbps connection and 4k TVs is very small; so the impact of 4k is phenomenally small as compared to what it would be for smart TVs because the smart TV numbers are still at some kind of a base. In a nutshell, digital is definitely the future and it has features like interactivity and better viewing experience, but it’s very important for infra to pick up too – the smart TV penetration and the broadband penetration are also very low, so you don’t have more than 20 million households having a good broadband connection and within that fibre connection is not more than 40—50 per cent, so the numbers are very minuscule at every end. So for example look at Jio – they have 7.5 million broadband subscribers, and you can assume that out of that only 50-60 per cent would have a high-speed unlimited data plan. Clearly, those are the only three-five million customers that are going to move purely to the smart TV side or digital side, otherwise apart from that many of them will not because giving data packs of 10-20 mbps won’t serve the purpose, you will find interruptions at a lot of places. So, digital is the future, but there are three things – the infrastructure on the broadband penetration side and also on the smart TV side and thirdly the UX also from the platform needs to pick up for digital to work in a big way. But I think for the next few years, TV is very much here to stay, and the lion’s share is going to come from TV.”