Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. (Jio) and Roy Kapur Films (RKF) have signed a multi-year deal to curate, commission, develop and produce original digital video content for Jio’s streaming platform. RKF is a film and media production company founded by the former managing director of The Walt Disney Co. (India), Siddharth Roy Kapur. The deal will include “finite and continuing series, long form and short form content across genres, and over time, ‘First on Jio’ feature films.”

It’s not clear if the ‘First on Jio’ films will be similar to Netflix’s original films, i.e., available only on Jio or not. The three films RKF will be producing over the next year or so are all big budget films featuring some of the top actors in the country, and will definitely not be digital-only. In regards to other long-form and short-form content, including web series, no announcement has been made as yet.

Jio operates two separate streaming platforms – JioTV (streams live TV) and JioCinema (Movies, TV shows and Music). The original content will most likely be offered on JioCinema, unless of course Jio decides to launch another streaming platform.

Focus on original content

A number of streaming platforms in India, including global players like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, are increasingly focusing on original content.

Amazon Prime Video has already released two original India-specific web series – Inside Edge and Going Viral. It also released stand-up specials by 14 Indian stand-up comedians. It had also signed up Vishal Bhardwaj and Vidhu Vinod Chopra to develop original content for the platform. On the other hand, Netflix has released stand-up specials by Vir Das and Aditi Mittal. And the company has announced three Netflix original series from India – Sacred Games (based on Vikram Chandra’s novel), Selection Day (based on Arvind Adiga’s novel) and Again (a supernatural detective series written by Marisha Mukerjee, who is also a writer on Quantico).

ALT Balaji has also been firmly focused on original content in various regional languages, the latest of which is a series on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose titled Bose Dead/Alive and starring Rajkumar Rao in the titular role. It’s worth noting that ALT Balaji’s parent company Balaji Telefilms had said in its Annual Report that on an average, the cost of 20 to 30 minutes of fiction content on digital can be as high as Rs 12-Rs 15 lakh (around $18,750-$23,450), which is almost twice that of TV.

Others like Hotstar and Viu too offer original content, minus the big names that the likes of Netflix, Amazon and ALT Balaji have managed to do.