Bigg Boss OTT, the live reality TV show hosted by Salman Khan, has broken new a record for streaming platform JioCinema. The season, which was available as a free 24-hour live-stream experience was watched by over 10 crore unique viewers, clocking in nearly 3,000 crore minutes of watch time, as per data provided by the streamer. Excluding the IPL (Indian Premier League) sporting event, these numbers denote the highest viewership for a live-streamed event/ show in India. The season finale, streamed on August 14, garnered 2.3 crore viewers alone, with the episode hitting a peak concurrency of 72 lakh viewers tuning in to see who wins the contest.
“The kind of numbers that it has delivered this time, the kind of viewership is just staggering. In the entertainment space, this seems to have been one of the biggest in the world, and by a mile in India,” an unnamed JioCinema executive told Variety. As per JioCinema, the eight-week-long season garnered 245 crore video views and 540 crore votes from fans, which reaffirms the show’s commitment to placing the power in the hands of the audience. For the uninitiated, Bigg Boss’ concept is based on the Dutch reality TV show called Big Brother, where a group of participants are locked inside a private residence, devoid of any outside communication for weeks on end. The housemates can then nominate whoever they want to be eliminated until eventually, one of them remains and wins a cash prize.
Viewers are also given the opportunity to vote on the person they want to save from eviction, in India’s case, being named the ‘Asli Boss.’ In addition to the general live stream, JioCinema also added interactive in-app-exclusive features like multi-camera feeds, a Hype mode, and live chats — akin to the FIFA World Cup 2022 streams — with over 5.5 crore viewers using them actively. All of this was made available free of charge, similar to their IPL streams, which parent company Viacom18 nabbed from Disney+ Hotstar in a $2.6 billion (about Rs. 21,613 crore) deal running until the year 2027. For now, the only paid content on the platform is its Premium tier membership, which grants access to HBO and Peacock content, for a yearly fee of Rs. 999.
“We’re not even three months old after the IPL has gotten over. So, time will tell. There’s a lot of learning that’s going on on the platform. It’s just phase one for us. So, too early to tell about the future. But, we’re very happy with the outcome so far,” the JioCinema executive explained when questioned about adding paid Indian content. Back in May, the streamer set a record, collecting 1,300 crore views within the first five weeks of its IPL cricket tournament broadcast, reaching twice the number of viewers when compared to the standard HD TV.
While all this is monumental for JioCinema, as a paying customer for the service, I can’t help but notice how forcefully the streamer pushes Big Boss OTT and other Indian content onto its users — be it via clickbait notifications, or simply flooding the screen with Hindi language shows and movies I have never showed interest in. The way the interface is currently set up, it takes a couple of scrolls for me to encounter any new Hollywood content — excluding the ones in the ‘Continue Watching’ section. There is no way to downvote titles you aren’t interested in and in some weird cases, the phone app asks me to provide my location information so it can recommend titles based on my region. Here’s hoping that JioCinema fixes some of its interface issues soon.