Mumbai-based Reliance Jio, India’s telecommunications giant, made headlines at the end of August as it announced that JioNews is now available to JioFiber users via their Jio set-top-box. Launched in 2019, JioNews is a news aggregator similar to Google News and Apple News platforms.
Currently, JioFiber is fifth in the country in terms of its number of broadband subscribers. However, the company hopes that this number will rise as customers now have access to a free news service that provides 350 e-papers and over 800 magazines. Its content varies massively, and it includes picture galleries, videos, and support for multiple languages, including regional ones.
The move marks the first time an Indian broadband service is offering access to a digital news service, and it has people wondering what it will mean for the flow of news in India, especially in the age of post-truth and fake news.
Millennials spend more time learning casino trix than reading news
Playing games of chance online as a leisure activity has seen a tremendous rise in popularity in India. According to statista reports, almost 40% of the 4.3h daily usage on their mobile phones is spent on entertainment and gaming.
About a third of Millennials use the internet to consume news, but more than 40% of the customers at online casinos are under 34. Thus, it seems like young Indians are more interested in learning how to play Andar Bahar online than reading about what’s happening in their country. It is easy to see why, as these platforms feature thousands of slots and live dealer games that are not only exciting to play but also feature a social aspect, as players can converse via a chat. Thus, the addition of JioNews to Jio Fiber will do little to attract this demographic.
Pandemic shifts people away from digital to traditional media
As 2020 threw everyone for a loop, everyone is wondering about the inevitable impact on the Indian economy and how things will change. Adjustments in spending habits are apparent, but so is a surge in demand when it comes to traditional media outlets. Enormous Brands, a Mumbai-based consumer services company, notes that high-income households are reactivating their cable subscriptions.
While there’s a noticeable shift happening, as people are moving away from old methods of acquiring news, nostalgia lingers, as many Indian consumers say that they miss their old ways. Reading the newspaper or watching TV with family was a terrific bonding experience. Though despite the positive aspects of these customs, people are succumbing to convenience, and many during this period switched over to reading newspapers online.
News and Jiofiber access is scarce in rural areas
Even though it seems inevitable that the world will go fully digital, it may take a little longer than people think. Estimates say that internet penetration in India is around 50%. However, broadband penetration in rural India is only 29%. Seeing as two-thirds of the population lives in rural areas, it’s easy to see why any moves JioFiber makes will have little to no impact on how a large part of the country consumes news.
Rural areas have low demand for luxurious possessions such as broadband internet, and companies have to find a balance between supply and demand to grow their business. Few can afford to spare funds on the development of services in low revenue-generating areas. Seeing as most of rural India does not have access to online news outlets or broadband services, the rise of JioNews will make no impact outside of big cities, as the rest of the country struggles to get a diverse look at what’s happening in the world.