Reliance Jio recently started its 4G LTE and VoLTE services in select cities across India. Along with the promise of faster and more affordable Internet connectivity, the company is also banking on its range of content services to differentiate itself from the competition. These services include JioMoney digital wallet, JioBeats music streaming service and JioOnDemand movie streaming service among others. Today, we re taking a closer look at JioPlay, the live TV streaming service. Also Read - Today's Tech News: FAU-G India launch, Jio suspends internet services in Delhi NCRAlso Read - Farmer protest update: Reliance Jio blocks internet services in Delhi NCR
JioPlay is set to go against already available services from NexGTV, YuppTV and DittoTV apps. As of now, JioPlay service is offered for free to Jio subscribers, but there is no word on the subscription charges after the trial period ends. Also Read - JioMeet video calling platform crosses 15 millions users
The JioPlay app gives you an access to 291 live TV channels, including 41 HD (high-definition) channels too. You can watch your favorite shows in 15 regional languages including Assamese, Bangla, Bhojpuri, English, Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Kannada, Malayalam, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.
JioPlay also has some nifty options that are missing out from its competitors, one of which is TV recording option. Just in case you re not around to watch your favorite TV show or you re smartphone s battery is running out, this feature could come in handy. For instance, if you are heading out for dinner and don t want to miss out on a show that airs at 8PM, you can record it for viewing later. On the daily TV guide, tap on the show, and tap on the circular icon with dot to record it. There is also a notification option here, which will alert you when your favorite show is about to start.
As the recording is linked with your account and is stored on the cloud, it won t eat up space on your phone. On select channels, episodes are recorded for the past seven days by default. So, just in case you miss out on a couple of episodes, you can watch them later.
When watching TV shows, you get two options catch-up and live. For instance, say the episode starts at 8PM and you tune in at 8:10PM, the streaming will start from the beginning. On the extreme right of the seek bar, you will have a button called live tapping on which it will directly jump to the current live streaming.
JioPlay app interface
Reliance has gone with a very simple interface, but it is very average, and not as sleek and intuitive as its competitors. Navigating through the menus is pretty simple, but I had issues getting around, mostly due to the lag in the interface. However, this could be because of the entry-level LYF Flame smartphone that I have, which has poor touch response.
When you start JioPlay for the first time, you will be guided through different features of the service. You will also have to create a user ID and password, but Jio users can skip the process and directly jump right into the app. On the homepage page, you have hamburger menu icon on the top left, JioPlay logo in the middle and search button on the right. Just below this bar, you have filters to choose all channels, HD channels only, favorites, language and categories. There is also a TV guide below this where you can check the schedule of TV shows for the next and past seven days.
On the home screen, swiping from the left to right brings menu tabs for favorites, recents, recording, settings, support and logout option. The swipe animation is pretty slow, and I had to swipe it a couple of times to bring up the options. Recordings tab shows all the recorded shows, settings menu lets you choose languages, whereas recents shows you the TV channels that you recently viewed.
The main screen shows a list of channels on the left side and the shows that are now playing on the right. You can drag the sheet to the left or right to look at the shows that are coming up or the ones that have ended. Here, tapping on the channel icon plays the live TV show, whereas tapping on the show that has ended, plays the repeat telecast. The benefit here is that, unlike your TV with a cable or DTH connection, JioPlay lets you watch your favorite TV shows at your leisure, without waiting for the channel s repeat telecast.
The video player interface is minimalist. You get the play/pause and seek buttons in the center, and the lock screen button on the top left to lock control buttons and orientation to avoid accidental touches. The video player in a small window (and can be moved across the screen), or you can play it on full screen in landscape mode.
DittoTV and YuppTV apps have much cleaner and intuitive interface compared to JioPlay. On the top, YuppTV has tabs to quickly watch News, Gossip (Bazaar), LiveTV, Catch-up and Movies. Also, the app interface doesn t lag as the one on JioPlay. The DittoTV app, on the other hand, has tiles for each show that is playing on live TV. The top bar also has quick links for search, catch-up TV and live TV channels. Navigating through the menu options on both YuppTV and DittoTV is much easier compared to JioPlay. Below is how the home screen of all the apps looks like (from left to right JioPlay, YuppTV and DittoTV).
Jio has managed to get good number of channels onboard with HD feeds of popular entertainment channels such as Star Plus, Zee TV, Colors, Sony, Sony Six, Zee Cinema, Romedy Now HD, Movies OK, Star Gold HD and more. Sports lovers would be glad to know that JioPlay includes StarSports HD 1, HD 2, HD 3, HD 4, Ten 1 HD, Neo Prime, Neo Sports and Sony ESPN among others.
Talking about competition, DittoTV offers all the TenSports channels, including Ten1, Ten2, Ten3 and TenGolf, whereas the same sports channels are missing from YuppTV. Entertainment channels such as ColorsHD, ZeeTVHD, SabTV and ZeeCinema HD, are present on DittoTV, but missing from YuppTV. Purely, from the wide number of accessible channels, JioPlay takes the lead here.
To test the JioPlay app, I also installed its competitors including the YuppTV and DittoTV apps. While I like the interface on competitor apps, JioPlay moves past in terms of quality both audio and video. Also, thanks to Jio s super fast internet connectivity, I never came across buffering issues. However, I did find about 32 seconds delay in playing the content on all the streaming apps compared to live TV (DTH Tata Sky connection).
While the content is watchable in SD (standard definition) resolution, the HD (high-definition) channels do make the content lively. The difference is also clearly visible when you listen to the audio, which sounds crisp and clear. My only complaint would be about the low audio output, which could have been a little louder, both on the headphones and on the speaker.
I was also calculating the data consumption and battery drain during my testing. A 30 minutes episode with SD streaming consumed about 150MB of data, whereas on HD streaming, it consumed about 350MB of data in the same time. Also, during this one hour of live TV streaming, the battery drained from 55 percent to 12 percent.
Competition and subscription charges
NexGTV provides access to limited number of channels, with most of them being free-to-air channels and some on-demand movies from BigFlix. To access premium channels and movies, you can choose between daily and monthly packs starting from Rs 10 per day to Rs 125 per month.
Next is the YuppTV app, which is quite popular. With daily, weekly and monthly subscription packs for Rs 5, Rs 30 and Rs 99, respectively, you get access to more than 200 live TV channels in 13 different languages, and a TV guide feature too.
Then there is DittoTV, which offers access to more than 100 live TV channels, with subscription plans starting from Rs 20 a month to Rs 170 for a year. This is the most affordable of all services. (Disclosure: Ditto TV is owned by Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, which is the parent company of India.com Webportal Pvt Ltd, the company that publishes BGR India.)
While YuppTV, NexGTV and DittoTV all have a website, allowing users to watch their favorite shows on their computers and laptops, the same option isn t available for JioPlay. Also, one of the biggest drawbacks of JioPlay is that it s only available for Jio users.
Overall, JioPlay is a good attempt at offering live TV streaming service to smartphone users on Jio network. Features such as TV guide, recording and access to wide range of HD channels give it an edge over competitors. However, the app interface needs fine tuning to make it smooth and intuitive. The service could get further interesting if Jio could extend the service support to watch live TV shows on PC or laptop s internet browser, like its competitors. Also, right now we don’t know how much the subscription will cost.