Photo Credit: HBO
All HBO and Warner Bros. content will soon be available to stream on JioCinema. Reliance's Viacom18 and Warner Bros. Discovery announced a multi-year agreement Thursday, which details that ‘starting next month' - May 2023 - JioCinema would be the new home for WB's catalogue of TV series and movies in India. However, the library isn't solely limited to HBO originals — as seen with Disney+ Hotstar — and includes Max Original (formerly HBO Max) and other Warner Bros. productions as well. Previously, HBO Max productions did not have a home in India, which led to Peacemaker being shopped to Amazon Prime Video seven months after its US premiere.
“Warner Bros. Discovery's brands are incredibly popular across India, and we are pleased to partner with Viacom18 to bring our premium HBO, Max Original, and Warner Bros. content to local fans,” Clement Schwebig, President, Warner Bros. Discovery (India, Southeast Asia, and Korea) said in a press release. “This new agreement demonstrates our commitment to South Asia as we seek to entertain audiences across more platforms, and further strengthens the scale of our regional business as a whole.”
"JioCinema has become the biggest platform for live sports. We are now on a mission to build the most magnetic destination for entertainment for all Indians," Ferzad Palia, Head – SVOD & International Business, Viacom18, said. "The strategic partnership with Warner Bros. Discovery is a big milestone in our journey to offer the best of Hollywood content to our elite consumers. We believe that Warner Bros. Discovery sets the global standards for premium content and this partnership allows us to create the best and the most comprehensive destination for our users."
The deal includes current and future seasons of critically-acclaimed HBO series such as House of the Dragon, The Last of Us, Euphoria, The White Lotus, and Succession's fourth and final season, which did not air in India at the same time as in the US, due to the deal with Disney+ Hotstar concluding at the end of March.
On March 31, Disney+ Hotstar removed all HBO content — spanning Game of Thrones, The Last of Us, and more — with reports suggesting that the shake-up has to do with internal restructuring and cost-cutting measures, laid out by returning Disney CEO Bob Iger. At the time, Amazon Prime Video was considered as a top candidate to acquire streaming rights for HBO content by industry analysts.
It was predicted that the streamer would either add HBO's catalogue to its library or offer the content as a separate subscription-based channel, akin to AMC+. This surprising new deal with Viacom18 comes soon after Jio Studios announced its own content slate of projects being produced in India. The press release further notes that new content such as Sam Levinson's The Idol and Park Chan-wook's The Sympathizer will be available to stream on the same day as the US premiere.
What's different this time is the inclusion of Max Original and Warner Bros. productions, which previously did not have an Indian destination unless the general audience showed demand for it. That's why James Gunn's Peacemaker took a while to arrive in India; it wasn't included in the Hotstar deal. At this point, it is unclear if ongoing shows such as The Flight Attendant, And Just Like That…, and Peacemaker would be removed from Amazon Prime Video.
As per the new deal, these will soon be up for streaming on JioCinema, alongside upcoming shows such as the Colin Farrell-led The Batman spin-off series The Penguin and Dune: The Sisterhood, the prequel series based on the 2012 sci-fi novel Sisterhood of Dune, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. Be on the lookout for the Harry Potter TV series as well.
Any Warner Bros. blockbuster movies including the Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and the DC Universe franchise will be packaged into JioCinema, alongside animated titles like Dexter's Laboratory and Tom and Jerry Kids. This is adding to the IPL (Indian Premier League) content available on the platform, which Viacom18 bagged from Disney+ Hotstar for digital streaming until 2027. The latter still holds TV broadcasting rights for the annual cricket extravaganza.
Currently, there are no pricing details or a concrete date for accessing Warner Bros./ HBO content on JioCinema, which as of now is offered for free, but is expected to start charging a subscription fee after IPL 2023.