In context: While Western countries are mostly watching soccer and basketball, India and other Asian countries are very much obsessed with cricket. The sport is so incredibly popular that it helped achieve concurrent streaming worlds record – twice.
JioCinema is officially the new world record holder for the most concurrent views to a live event, as the Indian streaming service recorded an impressive 32 million simultaneous viewers for the finale of the 16th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament held on Monday. The streaming event was free, and it featured the Chennai Super Kings versus the Gujarat Titans teams.
The previous record holder for the world's most popular streaming event was Disney Hotstar, an India-based online platform that drew 25.3 million simultaneous viewers for a cricket match in July 2019. The record went unchallenged for several years, while Disney decided to put the IPL streaming offering behind a paywall.
JioCinema, which is owned by Asian tycoon Mukesh Ambani in partnership with Viacom18 (partially owned by James Murdoch, the younger son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch), is now trying the same strategy followed by Disney Hotstar by offering paid, additional "premium" content. Meanwhile, the IPL event is still being offered for free through JioCinema's official app.
Viacom18 has recently won a $3 billion bidding war with Disney to get the streaming rights of the immensely popular sports tournament until 2027. Analysts say that providing streaming of IPL matches for free in India and other South Asian countries could reshape the market for digital content in the densely populated region.
Next to its free content – and IPL matches – for subscribers of the Jio telecom network service, JioCinema now provides a premium plan to customers willing to pay 999 Indian rupees ($12) per year. The premium offering is boosted by the deals Viacom18 recently closed with Warner Bros. and NBCUniversal.
While JioCinema is collecting some impressive numbers thanks to its exclusive IPL deal, Disney still is a very popular content platform in India. The US media conglomerate broadcasted the cricket tournament via satellite television, collecting 482 million cumulative views through the initial 66 matches.