Zee Entertainment Enterprises’ Zee5 has become the latest content app from a major Indian broadcaster to be added to Reliance Jio’s Fiber box, following close on the heels of Star India’s Hotstar and Sony Pictures Networks’ Liv.
With this, Jio Fiber now offers apps from nearly all the major entertainment broadcasters of India with the exception of Sun Network, which is also rumored to be in talks to place its app on the platform soon.
Reliance Jio’s box is designed as an all-in-one entertainment and communication solution and is connected by a high-speed fiber back-end provided by the same company.
Though based on Android, Jio has disabled all third-party app stores — including Google’s own Play Store — as well as the ability to sideload or install external apps via downloaded files.
Because of this, content makers like Zee and Star must negotiate with Jio and obtain its permission before they are allowed to offer their apps to Jio Fiber box users.
Besides, Jio does not allow these content makers to sell their content directly to subscribers. Instead, Jio plays the role of an intermediary and routes subscription payments for these apps through itself.
At present, all plans of the Jio Fiber service — except the entry level ones — include subscription charges for these apps built-in and users do not have to pay anything extra for accessing these apps. App makers are compensated by Jio based on the number of people who access their content.
Currently, the Jio box app-store has around a dozen applications, including Voot — the content app from Viacom18, a big broadcaster which is part of the same Reliance group to which Jio belongs.
According to users of Jio Fiber, the version of ZEE5 app from Zee Entertainment that is made available on the Jio Fiber app store gives access to all the content that is available on the full version found on Google Play Store.
Besides films, videos and music, the ZEE5 also offers live TV channels. This means that a JioFiber user does not have to subscribe to Zee channels as part of his/her cable plan, and can rely entirely on the app to watch Zee’s live channels.
Nevertheless, the JioFiber box also comes with a digital tuner to access traditional cable channels.
Still, with more and more channels available via different apps on the box, it remains to be seen if subscribers will continue to avail of cable TV plans after getting themselves a Jio Box.
It may be noted that Jio also owns Hathway Datacom and Den Networks, two of India’s biggest cable TV networks, and provides cable connections from these networks to Jio Fiber users wherever they request for the same. These cable channels can be accessed via the same JioFiber box.
Besides cable TV and content apps, JioFiber box is also a communication device, and has built-in microphones and a camera to support voice and video calling, including multi-user conference calling.
The JioFiber box is sold in India as the future of entertainment and communication in India. In response, traditional cable, broadband and satellite TV providers have been forced to up their game and offer similar boxes to retain their subscriber.
While Airtel Digital has come up with a box called Xstream, Dish TV offers Dish Smart Hub and d2h Smart Connected Box. Tata Sky, the biggest content player in terms of revenue, is also expected to launch its much-awaited Binge+ Android box later this month.
ioFiber box and Tata Sky Binge+ are similar as they come with bundled subscriptions to major content apps. On the other hand, offerings from Airtel Digital and Dish TV offer more flexibility as users don’t have to pay for the apps they don’t wish to use.