Disney+ content will be available in India via Hotstar Premium at no extra cost
Last week, Disney announced its own ad-free streaming service, Disney+ to offer its shows and movies to consumers directly without depending on any other party in the middle. The service will primarily compete with Netflix with its $7 monthly pricing in the U.S. when it goes live later this year. Apart from Disney movies – including those under the Marvel Movies’ banner – and shows, the service will also allow users to stream content from franchises like The Simpsons or Star Wars. But while Disney has not revealed its plans of releasing Disney+ in other countries, Indians will be able to enjoy all of the exclusive content via Hotstar without any extra payment.
With the acquisition of 21st Century Fox by The Walt Disney Company that concluded last year, one of India’s biggest television networks – Star India, which was earlier owned by Fox – came under Disney India. With this, the ownership of Hotstar – Star India’s online streaming platform – was also transferred to Disney.
— Hotstar Premium (@HotstarPremium) April 3, 2019
Hotstar is fairly popular in India because it operates on a freemium model. Currently, the platform offers 100,000+ hours of entertaining content across forms like daily soaps, news, movies, sports highlights as well as live telecast. Moreover, it is also the sole broadcaster of the Indian Premier League and HBO’s hits like Game of Thrones and Veep in India. This, along with super-cheap data plans in India thanks to Reliance Jio, has cascaded into a combined monthly viewership of 300 million on Hotstar.
It must be noted that just like HBO, content from Disney+ will not be available for free – but through Hotstar’s paid subscription. Currently, Hotstar Premium subscription can be bought for either ₹299 ($4.30) per month or ₹999 ($14.40) per year, which is relatively much more affordable than actual Disney+ membership plans. At the same time, Hotstar 365 is another plan available to the users for ₹365 ($5.25) per year but since it does not include HBO productions such as Game of Thrones, it may not include Disney+ exclusives either.
As for the localization of the content, Hotstar will offer Disney+ content dubbed in local languages such as Hindi, Tamil, and Telegu. This will further enhance the outreach of the exclusives from Disney and other productions houses like Marvel and National Geographic under its umbrella.
On the other hand, Netflix is also testing a mobile-only subscription plan for India which costs only ₹250 a month, hinting that the country could now be a battleground for video streaming services – similar to a trend we saw in the music streaming segment recently.