Chennai-based Sun TV Network, which operates to the most widely watched pay channel in India, has inked a content licensing deal with Reliance Jio, India’s biggest telecom operator.
Under the deal, Sun TV’s content — including those that it has purchased digital rights for — will be made available on Jio’s apps.
With this, thousands of movies have become available for Jio Cinema customers. Separately, Sun Group’s live TV channels, including HD versions, are available on the JioTV app.
Sun TV is estimated to have the rights to over 4,000 movies, mostly in South Indian languages like Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu, including hits like ’96’.
Being one of the oldest private sector broadcasting company, it also has the biggest repertoire of non-film videos in South Indian languages.
However, while movies from Sun NXT are already available on JioCinema, serials and other TV content from the broadcaster are yet to be available. It is not clear whether such content have been kept outside the scope of the agreement.
This is the second major content licensing agreement signed by Sun TV Network this year, following the January agreement with Vodafone Idea, India’s largest telecom network by number of subscribers.
Besides movies, Sun TV’s agreement with Vodafone Idea covers “a huge repository of TV shows, music videos and short format content”, according to a statement released by the telecom operator in January.
With the addition of JioCinema, the number of apps on which Sun TV’s movies is available has risen to four — Sun’s own Sun NXT, Jio Cinema, Vodafone Play and Idea Movies and TV.
The financial details of the agreement are not known, but it is likely that Sun TV may be getting paid based on the amount of its content consumed by Jio customers.
Jio also has similar content licensing agreements with other content creators, such as Balaji Telefilms, Zee Entertainment and Eros Now. Eros Now, however, is the only app to get its own dedicated section
OWN APPS OR ALL APPS?
Most of the big content producers in India, including Star India (Disney), Viacom18, Sony, Zee and Sun TV, initially refused to share their shows and movies with third-party applications, and were eager to reach out directly to consumers via own apps such as Hotstar, Voot, Liv and Zee5.
Some of the newer content producers, particularly Netflix and Amazon, too adopted this approach.
The first big broadcaster to start licensing out its content liberally was Zee, which inked such deals with Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Jio, Xiaomi earlier this year.
Sun TV is the second major broadcaster to adopt this route.
The other three — including Reliance Jio’s group company Viacom18 — have not been willing to share the content with third-party apps such as Vodafone Play and Airtel Wynk yet.
Separately, Reliance Jio is also building a pan-India IPTV network with a locked-down Android set-top-box. Unlike traditional Android TV boxes, Jio’s box is does not allow customers to install apps like Hotstar, Sony LIV etc, unless these players enter into content sharing agreement with the company.
The agreement with Jio indicates that Sun TV’s content may be available of Jio Fiber box.
On the other side, Airtel too has come out with an Android set-top-box that does allow users to install third-party apps.
However, users must also be subscribed to Airtel DTH or Xstream service to prevent the box from getting locked completely.
TV makers too have entered the market in a big way. While market leader Xiaomi too has put restrictions on which apps can be installed on its TVs, most of the other TV makers — such as TCL — allow the user to install any app he or she wants.