NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel on Monday pipped Reliance Jio in launching its converged home entertainment offering Xstream, seen by experts as an effort to take on the latter’s JioFiber, which is set to launch on Thursday.
Airtel is offering the product, which bundles together OTT streaming and Live TV services, through three options: an internet-enabled set-top box called Xstream Box, an Android-based Xstream Stick which will enable users to plug and watch content on TVs, and the Xstream Mobile App, which is a revamped version of its earlier Airtel TV app.
Airtel’s Xstream will “bring together content including Live TV, video, music, news, and sports across an OTT smart stick, internet-enabled set-top box and handheld devices,” said Adarsh Nair, chief product officer, Bharti Airtel, adding that the product would offer the company considerable potential for growth as India begins entering the 5G era. “They are able to connect to 5G networks now and stream high-end content. Think of this as preparation for the future while still being a sensible decision for today’s market,” he told reporters.
Airtel Wynk CEO Sameer Batra also pointed out that the number of broadband connections was growing every day, with 18 million homes sporting one currently. “This number will only go up. Most of the OTT (over-the-top) content providers have optimised their services, which means you don’t require very high data speeds. Today, if you have 8-10 mbps, you can stream the content,” he noted.
Potential customers who want to subscribe to the service may opt for any of the three routes. The Xstream stick, which is similar to Amazon’s Fire Stick and Google’s Chromecast, is priced at Rs 3,999. While Airtel Thanks Platinum and Gold customers will get complimentary access to the content subscription plan, other customers will get free access for 30 days and will need to subscribe to a Rs 999 plan to continue receiving the service.
The Xstream Box will be priced at Rs 3,999 too and offer a complimentary one-year subscription to all Airtel Xstream app content in addition to a one-month subscription for Airtel’s HD DTH pack.