The 16th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) kicked off on March 31, 2023, with a grand opening ceremony and a thrilling match between the Gujarat Titans and the Chennai Super Kings, streamed live on the JioCinema OTT platform.
As expected, the IPL’s festivities, light shows, and celebrations were all over the top, exemplifying the grandiose style that has become synonymous with the IPL brand.
For those tracking the OTT industry, this edition of the IPL is particularly significant because it marked a new streaming era, with digital streaming rights shifting from Disney+ Hotstar to Viacom18.
Viacom18, a joint venture between Network 18 (owned by Reliance Industries Limited) and Paramount Global, secured the streaming rights for the men’s edition of the IPL for an astonishing Rs. 23,758 crores (approximately $3 billion) in June 2022. In addition to bagging the IPL streaming rights in the Indian subcontinent, Viacom18 also secured the rights to broadcast the matches in Australia, South Africa, and the UK.
Viacom18’s commitment to sports streaming is evident from their recent deals with IPL, Women’s IPL, Football World Cup 2022, La Liga, Series A, MotoGP, and other sporting leagues.
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Streaming Experience on JioCinema
After taking over the streaming rights from Disney+ Hotstar, JioCinema had high expectations to meet, especially since cricket-crazy Indian fans have come to expect the best from their streaming platforms. Disney+ Hotstar had set the bar high with its well-engineered and record-breaking IPL streaming, as evidenced by the 18.6 million concurrent viewers during the IPL 2019 final between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians.
So, how did JioCinema perform?
Well, problems have been reported sporadically on Twitter by users unable to stream the matches or experiencing buffering.
But I haven’t heard of any large-scale blackouts or crashes, and it looks like Jio has delivered a good experience across all playback platforms (web, mobile, large screen).
- Concurrency of 1.6 crore (16 million) viewers.
- 6 crore (60 million) unique viewers tuned in to the match.
- The total match views for the opening match touched 50 crores (500 million) views.
- The JioCinema app also received 2.5 crore (25 million) downloads on the opening day.
Not bad for Day#1, huh?
Remember that these large volumes affect the CDN distribution and important sub-systems such as registration, playback API servers, DRM, ad decisioning, ad insertion, data collection, processing, and more. At IPL’s scale, orchestrating & scaling these components is a tough and impressive feat.
And, how was my personal experience?
With a good internet connection (approximately 30 Mbps), I consistently received the 1080p stream. Apart from a few stutters, the occasional blocking artifact during fast camera panning, I did not see significant buffering, stalls, or a drop in video quality. Happy with what I saw!
Multi-Camera Video Streaming in JioCinema
After trialing multi-camera (multi-angle) video streaming in the FIFA World Cup 2022, JioCinema has brought it back for the 2023 IPL, and it’s great.
The concept is simple yet powerful. It allows you to switch camera angles and not stick to what the match director chooses for the main feed. From what I could gather, you can choose between the Main Camera, Bird’s Eye Camera, Cable Camera, Crane Camera, Stump Camera, and Batter’s Camera.
JioCinema’s execution of the multi-camera feature was done well, with different views being easily accessible and labeled.
Interestingly, JioCinema used image placeholders for each camera angle instead of showing multiple live feeds. I believe this is a wise choice and avoids the production of an extra “postage-stamp-size” profile in their bitrate ladder, dealing with playback issues, multiple DRM calls, and the added load on the browser/software/hardware video decoders.
Multiple Studio Feeds, Fantasy Zones, and Stats
Besides the multi-camera feature, viewers can subscribe to multiple audio and studio feeds, including the main feed and fantasy zones for the teams playing that particular game.
This addition has significantly enhanced the viewing experience for fans who prefer a more personalized experience.
You can also check out the latest score, statistics, and chatter without leaving the app. A very pleasant UI & UX design!
JioCinema’s AVOD bet for IPL 2023
As you all know, Jio is streaming the IPL for free this year on an AVOD monetization model. Unlike previous years, where you had to subscribe to watch the IPL, this year, you can install JioCinema on your phone/TV and start watching for free. You will see ads (pre-roll, mid-roll, and graphic overlays below the scorecard) during the match.
This strategy is bound to garner JioCinema a huge user base for their AVOD strategy – on cricket and other VOD content. Their FAQs state –
Currently we do not have a subscription model and all content on JioCinema, including downloaded content will contain advertisements.
Overall, the start of the IPL’s 16th edition was positive, with many interesting features and a good experience for the end users. And, as a shocker to the industry, it was streamed free on a pure-AVOD monetization strategy!
Let’s see how the tournament progresses, and I’ll keep track of any newly introduced features and talk about them here.
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Until next time, happy streaming!
Krishna Rao Vijayanagar
Krishna Rao Vijayanagar, Ph.D., is the Editor-in-Chief of OTTVerse, a news portal covering tech and business news in the OTT industry.
With extensive experience in video encoding, streaming, analytics, monetization, end-to-end streaming, and more, Krishna has held multiple leadership roles in R&D, Engineering, and Product at companies such as Harmonic Inc., MediaMelon, and Airtel Digital. Krishna has published numerous articles and research papers and speaks at industry events to share his insights and perspectives on the fundamentals and the future of OTT streaming.