Reliance Is Set To Launch A Smart TV OS, Also Sell Its Own TVs

Reliance already owns several parts of the value chain through which India accesses content — it runs the country’s largest telecom network in Jio, and is the country’s second largest broadband provider; it also runs the country’s biggest OTT apps in JioCinema and Hotstar. But now it is setting its sights much closer to the consumer.

Reliance has started testing its own Smart TV OS, ET reports. Named Jio TV OS, it is India’s first indigenously developed Smart TV OS, and is expected to launch commercially by Diwali. The OS is currently being beta tested by some Indian TV manufacturers for feedback and fixing bugs.

Reliance ultimately plans to launch its own smart TVs as well. The company already sells TVs under the BPL and Reconnect brands, but these new smart TVs will be 4K and full HD, and use Jio TV OS. Reliance is also signing license agreements with smaller homegrown TV manufacturers to use its OS in their TVs. It’s unlikely larger TV makers will use Jio TV OS — Samsung, for instance, uses its Tizen OS, LG uses its webOS — but Reliance will hope that its OS can find users among smaller manufacturers who’ll be willing to deploy Jio TV OS. Reliance, reportedly, is not charging any licensing fees for Jio TV OS from TV manufacturers in a bid to make it popular.

Its own Smart TV OS will enable Jio to have an even bigger stranglehold over the pipes that carry content. While Reliance already has sizable businesses in making the internet reaching people’s homes, the apps that host content, and even producing content itself, it now appears to be plugging what was a potential gap in its arsenal. TV manufacturers have a lot of leeway in what they prioritize in their OS interfaces, and can not only draw people towards specific apps, but also have content streams within the OS’s interface itself. As such, Reliance appears to be making a push towards making its own TV OS — through its OS, Jio will be able to exercise even greater control on how people get their content. And in an industry that has little loyalty and no shortage of competition from user-generated services YouTube, it could be an important piece in maintaining its dominance in the space.