Over 32 million viewers tuned in to JioCinema to watch the FIFA World Cup finals as per the numbers released by JioCinema-Sports18. Over 110million viewers consumed the content digitally, making India one of the highest digital viewership markets for the FIFA World Cup, according to Reliance. Over 40 billion minutes of watch time was clocked across Sports18 and JioCinema, which continued to be the No. 1 downloaded free app on iOS and Android throughout the tournament, the release noted.

“The app’s rapid rise is attributed to the ever-increasing preference of consumers to watch the action on smartphones and connected TVs in India. JioCinema enhanced viewers’ live experience with a never-seen-before Hype Mode, empowering fans with unique offerings at their fingertips during a live match. It included a multi-cam view of the match, trivia and stats in real-time, and a Time Wheel that allows viewers to relive an unforgettable moment,” said the press release.

“We promised to give consumers easy access to the world-class presentation of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, and on the back of that, the tournament became the most-watched global sports event on digital space where India has not participated,” said Viacom18 Sports CEO Anil Jayaraj. “This demonstrates the power of digital and the preference viewers and fans have shown to consume their favourite events,” Jayraj added.

Aggressive stance

Reliance-owned Viacom18 is aggressively building its sports streaming business. The broadcaster won the rights to digitally stream the Indian Premier League from 2023-27, India’s largest sporting marquee. Airing and streaming IPL digitally on JioCinema was a crucial experiment for Reliance, since it needs to decide on the right streaming vehicle of IPL.

Part of the reason for good viewership numbers for the world cup on JioCinema was that this was football legend Lionel Messi’s last world cup and the tournament featured many upsets and stellar performances from fan favourites. The initial reviews for JioCinema by viewers were mixed, as they noted that the user interface and experience were extremely buggy. Many viewers also have voiced that the sports coverage quality of competitive broadcasters is superior. However, Reliance possesses some of the largest sporting properties in the country, and it drew significant numbers for the world cup.