Billionaire Mukesh Ambani‘s streamer JioCinema is making a play to become India’s top streaming service by introducing cheap premium tier plans.

From April 25, the service’s existing INR999 ($12) annual plan for international premium content is being replaced by a monthly plan of INR29 (35 cents) for a single device or INR89 ($1.05) monthly for a family plan that covers four devices. The new plans are branded JioCinema Premium and will be up to 4K streaming quality.

JioCinema’s sports content that includes the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament will continue to be available for free as an AVOD service. In 2022, Ambani’s Viacom18, which owns JioCinema, had paid $3 billion for digital rights to the IPL, outbidding then rival Disney, who paid a similar amount for only the broadcast TV rights. Viacom18 and Disney’s Star India are in the process of merging in an $8.5 billion deal.

Last month, at a media confab in Mumbai, Kevin Vaz, CEO, broadcast entertainment, Viacom18, had said: “Cricket is one of the biggest reach drivers in this country. It’s the only piece of content that works across the length and breadth of this country, and advertisers value this because they can get instant reach, they can reach consumers in the north and the south with their message at the same time, and they are ready to pay the price for this kind of content. It makes sense to have sport in front of the paywall. When sports has such a reach, it’s not ideal for us to try and limit that reach when there are people willing to watch it.”

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JioCinema Premium will include content from Peacock, HBO, Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery, top Bollywood films and streaming shows and early access to content from the Colors and Nickelodeon TV channels. In addition, more than 20 TV channels from the Viacom18 Network will be available to stream.

The pricing is competitive in comparison to Disney+ Hotstar where mobile only plans begin at INR149 ($1.75) for three months and premium at INR499 ($6) for three months or INR299 ($3.50) monthly; Prime Video’s INR299 ($3.50) monthly or INR599 ($7.15) for three months; and Netflix’s INR149 ($1.75) for mobile only or premium for INR649 ($7:75), both monthly.

The JioCinema pricing is in keeping with sister company, mobile telephony provider Reliance Jio’s playbook. Reliance Jio launched in India in 2016, providing free 4G data, voice calls, and SMS for six months, with a view to attracting 100 million subscribers. It is now India’s top mobile operator with 482 million subscribers and charges market rates.

Kiran Mani, CEO, Viacom18 Digital, said: “Creating and building an entertainment ecosystem with a product that is made for every Indian household, is not just a business strategy, but a vision to empower our country and users with an unmatched entertainment experience. JioCinema Premium aims to redefine the narrative of premium entertainment for every Indian while building a daily viewing habit.”

“The introduction of JioCinema Premium breaks the numerous cost and quality barriers that exist in accessing premium entertainment,” Mani added. “With 4K streaming, best-in-class audio, offline viewing and no device restriction all at a customer-centric pricing is sure to democratize access to quality entertainment for all of India.”