Reliance Jio has come a long way from just being the bugbear of telecom sector incumbents. Among the flurry of announcements Reliance Industries (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani made earlier this week was one that has set the cat among the pigeons in the cinema exhibition sector.

According to Ambani, Jio’s soon to be launched high-speed broadband and home entertainment offering – Jio Fibre – will eventually launch a package that will allow its subscribers to watch movies releasing in theatres at home on the very first day.

“Premium JIOFIBER customers will be able to watch movies in their living rooms the same day these movies are released in theatres! We call this Jio First-Day-First-Show and we plan to launch this service in the middle of 2020,” Ambani had said during RIL’s 42nd AGM.  

The announcement saw investors begin a sell-off in multiplex stocks once markets opened on Tuesday, with little improvement in stocks since. India’s two listed multiplex firms – PVR Ltd. and Inox Leisure Ltd. – saw stock prices fall over 4 per cent each on Tuesday. Both firms’ scrip values have fallen 5.54 per cent (for PVR) and 3.54 per cent (for Inox) since the Ambani’s announcement.

Both firms have also responded to what is likely to be a highly disruptive development, with Inox noting that “ producers, distributors and multiplex owners in India have mutually agreed to an exclusive theatrical window of 8 weeks, between the theatrical release of a movie, and release on any other platform”. PVR, for its part, added that both “in India and globally, producers have respected the release windows and kept a sacrosanct gap between the theatrical release date & the date of release on all other platforms, i.e. DVD, DTH, TV, OTT etc”. 

According to a FICCI report on India’s media and entertainment sector, out of the total filmed entertainment revenues of Rs 17,450 crore in 2018, the theatrical box office (domestic & overseas) contribution was about 75 per cent. “…we expect cinema exhibition to continue to expand,” said PVR.  

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