Jio TV vs Airtel TV: Which is the best live TV app?

Jio TV and Airtel TV both allow you watching live TV channels online on your smartphones. However, one app is better than the other in many aspects, which we have kept in mind to find the winner

Jio TV and Airtel TV both are available free of cost to the users
Jio TV and Airtel TV both are available free of cost to the users

Ever since the 4G connectivity gained penetration in the country, the demand for online content spiked dramatically. Besides the online programmes and movies, people now have the option to watch TV shows, sports, and news without even needing a television set. When you think of online streamable content such as movies and videos, the first few names that come to your mind are Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hotstar, which is obvious as they also happen to provide good Hollywood and international content along with the local ones. However, there are other apps as well that let you watch online live TV, right on your smartphone. The two prime apps that we are talking about are Jio TV and Airtel TV, which rose massively lately in terms of the TV channels and promptness they offer.

Both the apps are available free of cost to the subscribers of the respective telecom operators – Jio TV is Reliance Jio’s service whereas Airtel TV is for Airtel customers. The Airtel TV can be accessed for free, which is under the offer that was renewed recently by Airtel to expand adoption. However, Jio TV is accessible by the Jio Prime customers only. While there are a lot of users already enjoying either one of the two or both preferably, it sometimes becomes quite difficult to choose one for everything that you look for in an online live TV app. Here’s a comparison of both the apps, where all the aspects have been contrasted.

Jio TV vs Airtel TV: Channels

The very basic thing that is the marquee in the online live TV apps is the catalogue of channels because that’s what you are using the app for in the first place. The Jio TV is clearly the winner here as the platform shows you over 500 channels – 585 to be specific – in all major languages – Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Malayalam, Gujarati, Marathi, Kannada, and Urdu. On top of this, Jio has its own exclusive channels such as Jio Sports, Jio Dhan Dhana Dhan, and Jio Events among others.

On the other hand, Airtel has only 354 channels on the platform, which are less by a large margin. Also, Airtel does not have its own channels exclusively available on its app, so a miss here too. The HD channel catalogue is staggeringly small in Airtel TV with just 36 channels in total – place it next to the HD channels offered by Jio TV that are 115 in number and you will know the difference.

While the Jio TV has all the major channels that you would usually browse on DTH or cable connection, it may have some channels that aren’t sometimes available on your television. Airtel, on the contrary, does not have Colors channels and some other English movies and entertainment channels.

However, everything is not so bad about Airtel TV after all. Airtel TV features content from the major streaming services such as Hooq, Eros Now, AltBalaji, and Hotstar. If you love watching DC shows such as The Flash, Gotham, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow, you will find an impressively good collection, thanks to Hooq. One thing worth mentioning here, you will not find the latest episodes from the DC shows as this is a free tier plan. If you want to watch the latest episodes within a few hours after the US premiere, you will need to install Hooq app and buy a subscription (after a 7-day free trial period).

The similar sort of content can be availed in the Jio Cinema app, however, surprisingly, its catalogue is dated with some titles that you see on TV every alternate week. But, the Jio Cinema app outdoes Airtel TV with a larger catalogue of Indian, as well as Hollywood, movies.

Summing it all, Reliance Jio has a vast collection of TV channels that you can watch live whereas its on-demand content is slightly higher than Airtel TV, making a neck and neck competition between the two.

Jio TV vs Airtel TV: Interface and Ease

The moment you fire up both the apps on your smartphones, the one thing that you realise that Jio TV is more clutter-free than Airtel TV. Well, there is a solid and genuine reason behind this. Since Reliance Jio has a separate app – Jio Cinema – to cater to the demands of movie watching and other content that does not need be live-streamed, Jio TV can solely focus on offering live TV channels straight up from the home-screen. Coming to Airtel TV, the app has different sections categorised into – Featured, TV Shows, Movies, Originals, and Live TV.

You see all the channels on JioTV right on the home-screen, You can filter out the channels on the basis of HD, All (including non-HD and HD); categories – Sports, Hindi Entertainment, English Entertainment, Hindi Movies, English Movies, Business, News, Music, Kids, and Lifestyle among others; and language. You can favourite a channel to make it available in a separate filter signified by a heart-shaped icon on the top. The header of the app is dominated by a carousel of some popular and trending programmes. To browse channels, you need to scroll vertically whereas horizontal scroll would reveal all the programmes – aired previously and coming up next.

There is also a recording feature on the hamburger menu, however, it’s not much of utilitarian as it defies the whole idea of watching live TV. But, as we mention it, you can tap the record button on some programmes for viewing later, which you can alternatively do by jumping as back as a week ago to catch up previous shows. So, the idea of the recording feature is somewhat futile.

Now, let’s bring Airtel TV into the picture. You will see a mix of movies, VOD content, and Live TV tab at the right-most corner. The interface of Airtel TV is a little different from the one on Jio TV as the programmes that you wish to catch up are separately available under the TV Shows tab, while the Live TV serves just the purpose of online live TV streaming. Once you move to the Live TV tab, you will see a list of channels with two bars on the top – the first one having the date, HD, All (non-HD and HD), Language, and Category while the second one is the time bar. Now, you can just scroll the channels vertically, however, in order to see the programmes across time, you will have to scroll left and right on the time bar to see the programmes at that slot.

In terms of interface, both the apps are winners, given what exactly you are into while browsing the app. If you don’t mind hovering over the app to check out all the content, in addition to live TV channels, then Airtel TV should be your choice. However, if you open an app just to watch live TV channels, JioTV is clearly the one you should go for.

Jio TV vs Airtel TV: Data consumption

The big issue that most of the users – especially the ones with metered connection – stress over is how much data would actually be drained while using these apps. The first thing that the users should know here is that while Jio TV can only be accessed if you either have a Jio SIM card inserted into the phone or are using Wi-Fi connection with sign-in details (username, password), or both. Meanwhile, Airtel TV is accessible over any data connection regardless of the SIM card or Wi-Fi network, once you sign into the app with your Airtel number.

Now, coming back to data consumption, JioTV does not have a separate setting that allows customisation of video quality to lower the data usage. However, once you start watching a programme in full-screen mode, you will see an on-screen tool to let you change the video quality settings. Playing HD content on Jio TV consumed around 300MB of data for 10-12 minutes. Needless to say, playing HD content also requires a strong data connection.

In the case of Airtel TV, watching HD content for 10 minutes used a little extra data bytes than Jio TV – around 350MB. You can change the video quality settings in the Airtel TV app to minimise the data consumption. The app settings allow changing the playback quality universally for all the programmes – you can choose High, Medium, and Low. While the video quality on High is around 720p, whereas choosing Medium brings it down to 480p-ish. Toggling the Low quality button on will degrade the video quality extensively, however, you will be able to bring out the distinction among the characters, with compromising on the text running in the programme.

Another noble feature that Airtel TV app comes with is the Mobile Data Saver. It essentially disables HD video streaming on mobile data connection. This can prove to be useful if you are in a place with spotty Internet coverage like in transit.

The Airtel TV here is the clear winner as the data consumption controls are explicitly and visibly available to the users, so as to enable them to restrain the app from hogging up huge data packets.

Jio TV vs Airtel TV: Conclusion

If you are looking for a plethora of channels along with some other exclusive channels, Jio TV should be your first choice. That aside, the intuitive app interface makes it easier for a person using the app for the first time to immediately begin doing what he/ she came for in the first place. However, if you disregard the clutter, which is not really annoying though, Airtel TV can make it to the winner list if you like watching web-only shows, as well as Hooq programmes. Another case that vouches for Airtel as a triumphant is the control over data consumption. But otherwise, JioTV is the winner between the two, keeping in mind the catalogue and interface.

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First published on: 09-04-2018 at 10:58 IST