More Competition For Netflix, Amazon Prime As Disney+ To Soon Launch In India

The announcement was made by Disney chief Bob Iger during the company's first quarter earnings call with analysts. The service would be launched as part of the existing streaming application Hotstar, erstwhile owned by Fox.

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At a time when the streaming wars are heating up in India, with big names finally embracing the change sweeping the entertainment industry, US media giant Disney too doesn’t want to stay too far behind. During a post-earnings call, Walt Disney chief Robert Iger confirmed that the company’s new service Disney+ would launch in India on March 29, just ahead of the cash-rich and hugely popular Indian Premier League.

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“We see this as a great opportunity to use the proven platform of Hotstar to launch the new Disney+ service in one of the most populous countries and fastest growing economies in the world,” said Iger.

The service would be launched as part of the existing over-the-top (OTT) streaming application Hotstar, erstwhile owned by Fox.

Launching with Hotstar

Hotstar predominantly offers a lot of content for free, which come with in-video advertisements, while also offering two different paid packages - VIP and Premium - priced at INR 365 per year and 299 per month or 999 a year respectively. While premium gives you access to all content, the former allows one to watch all live sports, specials and new Indian movie premieres. Disney acquired Hotstar last year as part of its $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox’ film and television assets. 

In the last couple of years, the OTT market has seen increased focus from both Netflix and Amazon Prime with both streaming majors steadily acquiring local content and ordering several of their own originals. Even smaller OTT players such as Ekta Kapoor’s AltBalaji and the more regional Hoichoi have managed to break through with more affordable plans in what continues to be a highly price sensitive market.

The entry of Disney+ with Hotstar would mean that they already have a large base to cater to. In its ‘India Watch Report 2019’, Hotstar said it had seen over 400 million downloads, with installs doubling over the previous year. It also saw video consumption growing three times on a year-over-year basis. A big part of the app’s popularity has been live sports, especially cricket, with Star holding the exclusive rights for the IPL and several other major international tournaments.


For Disney to succeed, however, it would need to be careful with how they price the new paid packages.

“We're going to launch bundled with Hotstar, directly bundled meaning it is Disney plus Hotstar as a product, we're not giving specifics about price at this point, but expect that there'll be two primary products brought into India,” Iger said on the call.

To compete better, Netflix has already introduced a lower-priced INR 199 per month plan where one can only watch on their mobile phones or tablets. During its quarterly earnings call in October, the Los Gatos, California-based company said the plan was working better than expected and that it was looking to test the same in other markets as well. Amazon has priced its Prime subscription at INR 999 per year, which also includes free one-day delivery from the e-commerce giant and access to Amazon’s music streaming service.

Apart from access to all of Disney’s movies over the years, its streaming service has already commissioned several new originals, including from the fan favorite Marvel and Star Wars properties.