Race for scale: HBO finds a home in India after deal with JioCinema

Does its deal with HBO mean that JioCinema is planning to go pay?

Vanita Kohli-Khandekar

When Disney decided not to renew its five-year agreement with HBO earlier in March there was a lot of speculation on the new home for HBO

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Viacom18’s JioCinema is going all guns blazing for scale. First came the “Fifa for free” in November 2022, then the audacious $3-billion bid (about Rs 24,000 crore) for the digital rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL). And now comes a deal to put all HBO content including shows such as Succession, Game of Thrones and films like Harry Potter on JioCinema.
Just before the Fifa World Cup began streaming in November 2022 “JioCinema was at 8.2 million unique visitors. With Fifa, it went to a high of 71 million before settling at 65 million in March”, says Geet Lulla, vice-president, sales, Asia Pacific, Comscore, quoting from the firm’s data (see charts). Analysts reckon IPL will add another 100 million or so.
But HBO is known for premium programming that was a huge subscription driver for Disney+ Hotstar, the last platform it was on in India. Is Viacom18 planning to take JioCinema pay in the near future?

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First Published: Apr 27 2023 | 9:10 PM IST

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