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Netflix, Amazon Prime turn weapons in Indian telecom firms' freebie fight

Reliance Jio's new plan offers customers Netflix on a mobile device, one-year subscription to two over-the-top applications and access to Jio's movie and songs. library.

Bharti Airtel | Reliance Jio | Vodafone Idea

Ashutosh Joshi & Devidutta Tripathy | Bloomberg 

Several big-budget local films have been released on streaming platforms this year.

India’s telecom price war is back, and this time the battle is being fought with freebies.

After announcing the first tariff increase in three years in 2019, telecom carriers are offering incentives such as subscriptions to services from to to win customers in a content-hungry market.

With theaters in India, among the biggest film markets globally by number of tickets sold, closed due to pandemic restrictions, the demand for entertainment content has shifted online. Several big-budget local films have been released on streaming platforms this year.

On Tuesday, Infocomm Ltd., the country’s biggest telecom company by subscribers, launched a new 399-rupee ($5.4) plan for users who opt for monthly billing instead of pay-as-you-go packs. Besides 75 gigabytes of data, customers would get access to on a mobile device and one-year subscription to two over-the-top applications and access to Jio’s movie and songs library.

“Reliance Jio’s new postpaid plans offer more content and come at 20% discount” to Ltd., analysts at Jefferies India Pvt. said in a report to clients. Bharti’s comparable entry-level plan is priced at 499 rupees and offers the same amount of data but doesn’t include access to Disney+ Hotstar and Netflix, while Ltd.’s plan offers 40GB data and doesn’t include any of the three online platforms, according to analysts.

ALSO READ: Jio postpaid plans: BofA, CLSA think its not a threat to Airtel; here's why

Over the past four years, the number of users opting for monthly billing of mobile services has come down sharply and such users now form about 5% of the total 1.14 billion subscribers and generate 15% of the sector’s revenue, according to Jefferies analysts.


Although Jio introduced its postpaid plans in 2018, the company’s offerings didn’t see much traction, showcasing ‘stickiness’ of this base of customers, according to Morgan Stanley analysts.

“This time extremely aggressive content offerings could be the key attraction for consumers,” Emkay Global Financial Services Ltd. analysts Naval Seth and Sonali Shah said in a note. They expect Bharti and to follow Jio with similar tie-ups with OTT platforms to retain the monthly bill paying customers whose average monthly spending is higher than the prepaid users.

has lost nearly 9%, while has fallen 12.7% in two sessions since Jio announced the enhanced postpaid plans.

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First Published: Thu, September 24 2020. 14:22 IST