Content tie-ups: How Airtel is snapping Reliance Jio’s heels

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New Delhi | Published: September 10, 2018 6:10:51 AM

With Netflix tie-up, Airtel ups the ante and is fast catching up with its rival.

reliance jio, airtel, bharti airtelThough not currently, Jio has indicated it would provide customised content to users based on their interests.

When it comes to content amongst mobile operators, Reliance Jio is the undoubted numero uno. However, in the last one year Bharti Airtel has played the catch-up game well and seems to be snapping at Jio’s heels. In fact, it has beaten the leader in some aspects like its tie-up with Netflix recently.

The two offer the same number of live TV channels on their respective apps — Jio TV and Airtel TV. Star Network and Sony Network are available on both but Zee is only available on Airtel and Viacom only on Jio.

However, when it comes to OTT platforms, Bharti scores as of the eight popular OTTs, six are available on Airtel TV while only three are on Jio TV. Sony Liv, Zee5, and Hooq are not available on Jio but are on Airtel. In addition, Airtel has recently tied up with Netflix which is not present on Jio.

However, if the overall count of TV channels and movies available are concerned, Jio retains its lead over Airtel. The former has 580 TV channels and 110 HD channels. Airtel has 375 live TV channels. On movie channels though Airtel has recently raced past Jio by having a library of 10,000 movies compared to 6,000 movies on offer on Jio.

Analysts said in the last one year Bharti has focused big time on developing content partnerships and this reflects in its data traffic and rise in 3G/4G subscribers. Average monthly data usage at Bharti is now at 8GB, which is up three times year-on-year basis. However, here it is still behind Jio where the average monthly data consumption is at 10GB.

Similarly, its 3G/4G subscriber base at 85 million is up 73% year-on-year. It has also helped it lower subscriber churn at 2%, which is nearly half of what it was last year at end of June quarter. Since Jio is a fully 4G network, its entire 215 million users are 4G subscribers so it will continue to have an edge over Bharti for many more years.

“We believe competition in the mobile space is set to move beyond tariffs and adding new use cases for data like content will become increasingly important to boost both data adoption and usage which in turn will drive Arpu for telcos,” a recent note by brokerage firm CLSA observed.

The content partnerships forged by Bharti have also helped its video OTT platform gain 66 million subscribers since FY17 (in March 2017 the platform had only 1 million users) and its music app Wynk is now the top music app in the country by notching up a subscriber base of 102 million. Jio is still to catch up on music and has acquired a stake in music app Saavn so this space will see competitive times.

Though Bharti has been good at catching up, Jio is still far ahead in terms of cinema and TV subscribers with its Jio cinema and TV together having a user base of around 150 million.

Though not currently, Jio has indicated it would provide customised content to users based on their interests.

“Bharti, post its investments in 4G network, got aggressive on the content story. Currently, Bharti is acting as an aggregator of content (similar to Jio) and almost offers similar content as Jio,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch observed in a recent report.

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