Airtel Xstream sounds like a strong contender to Jio Fiber's upcoming services
In a bid to prepare its war chest against Reliance Jio, Airtel on Monday formally announced the launch of Xstream – its new platform that converges OTT services, devices, live TV, and apps under one umbrella and makes them accessible on multiple devices, two of which have been unveiled alongside. Airtel has released an Xstream Stick (à la Amazon Fire TV), a revampled Internet-enabled Xstream Android set-top box, and an Xstream app for mobile devices. The move comes as Airtel grapples to climb back to its previous position of the biggest telecom company in the country.
Airtel Xstream Stick costs Rs 3,999 for all Airtel and non-Airtel customers. If you are an Airtel Thanks Platinum or Gold customer, you will be entitled to complimentary access to the content subscription from partner platforms including Wynk Music, ZEE5, Hooq, Hoi Choi, Eros Now, HungamaPlay, ShemarooMe, Ultra and Curiosity Stream. Non-Airtel customers will get access to all the aforementioned services free of charge for first 30 days, post which an annual subscription plan worth Rs 999 needs to be purchased.
The Airtel Xstream Box is priced at Rs 3,999 for new customers while existing Airtel DTH customers can get the box for Rs 2,249. The Xstream Box is bundled with one year of free access to Xstream content (including that of partner platforms), worth Rs 999, and one month subscription to an HD pack.
Airtel’s two new products – Xstream Stick and Xstream Box – are now available to buy from Flipkart, Amazon, and Airtel.in as the online platforms while offline purchases can be made from Airtel retail stores, Croma, and Vijay Sales across the country. Xstream Stick won’t be available to buy on Amazon as of now. The Xstream app, which is a rebranded version of Airtel TV, is already available to download on Android and iOS, alongside the web version to access on PC and Mac.
The Xstream Stick is Airtel’s answer to the portable streaming devices coming from all the corners. Recently, DishTV launched two streaming sticks under its marquee DTH brand and D2h. These streaming sticks work in a mechanism exactly similar to the Amazon Fire TV stick. You can install apps on the Xstream, a few popular of them come preloaded for you. It runs Android 8.0 Oreo, which means you can access Google Play store meant for portable devices to download apps that have been rescaled to match the aspect ratio of big screens. It also means that you can download Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hotstar on your stick. Powering the Xstream stick is a 1.6GHz processor. It also supports Chromecast and comes with a voice-enabled remote control.
Moving to the Airtel Xstream Box, it is essentially the rebranded version of Airtel Internet TV, which was launched in 2017. The Xstream Box runs on Android 9.0 Pie that brings Play store onboard so that you can download everything that’s available there, including YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and more. The entire suite of Xstream content is also available. It too supports Chromecast, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. The Xstream Box comes bundled with a universal remote control that supports Google Assistant voice.
Meanwhile, Jio is ready with its high-speed broadband service called Jio Fiber, which is full of services that directly attack multiple industries, including home entertainment. Jio will bring all the services, including OTT platform, down to a single interface without any extra charges, which could pose a big threat to several players in the realm.