Live reality TV show Bigg Boss OTT hosted by Salman Khan broke a new record on streaming platform JioCinema. According to data provided by streaming media, this season provided a 24-hour free live broadcast experience, attracting more than 100 million unique viewers to watch, and the viewing time was close to 30 billion minutes. Excluding IPL (Indian Premier League) sporting events, these figures represent the highest viewership for live events/programs in India. The season finale, which aired on August 14, attracted 2.3 billion viewers for that episode alone, with a peak of 7.2 million viewers.

“The numbers and ratings brought this time are shocking. In the field of entertainment, this seems to be one of the largest theaters in the world, and it is far ahead in India.” A JioCinema executive who asked not to be named told reporters type. According to JioCinema, the eight-week series garnered 2.45 billion video views and 5.4 billion fan votes, reaffirming the show’s commitment to putting power in the hands of viewers. For the uninitiated, the concept for Bigg Boss is based on the Dutch reality TV show Big Brother, in which a group of participants are locked in private homes and isolated from the outside world for weeks on end. Roommates can then nominate whoever they want to eliminate until eventually, one of them stays and wins a cash prize.

Viewers also had the chance to vote for the person they wanted to save from deportation, in India’s case, named “Boss Asli”. Apart from general live streaming, JioCinema has added interactive in-app exclusive features such as multi-cam live streaming, Hype mode and live chat (similar to FIFA World Cup 2022 live streaming), which are actively used by over 550 million viewers. All of these are offered for free, similar to their IPL streaming, which parent company Viacom18 snatched from Disney+ Hotstar in a $2.6 billion (Rs. 2161.3 crore) deal that runs until 2027 . The platform is its premium membership that gives access to HBO and Peacock content for an annual fee of Rs 100. 999.

“We’re less than three months after the IPL. So, time will tell. A lot of learning is going on on the platform. It’s just the first phase for us. So, it’s too early to talk about the future. But, We are very happy with the results so far,” the JioCinema executive explained when asked about adding premium Indian content. Back in May, the streamer set a record by racking up Rs 1,300 crore in the first five weeks of the IPL cricket tournament, doubling the viewership on standard HDTV.

While all of this means a lot to JioCinema, as a paying customer of the service, I can’t help but notice how aggressively the streamer pushes Big Boss OTT and other Indian content to its users — whether it’s through clickbait notifications, or Simply flooding the screen I never showed interest in Hindi shows and movies. The way the interface is currently set up, I need to scroll a few times to encounter any new Hollywood content – excluding content in the “Continue Watching” section. There’s no way to downvote titles you’re not interested in, and on some odd occasions, the phone app asks me for my location so it can recommend titles based on my region. Hope JioCinema fixes some interface issues soon.

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