[Update 2: Service Resumed] Hotstar brings Disney+ content to India as “Disney+ Hotstar”
Disney is the world’s largest media production house. About a year ago, it announced its entry into the online streaming business with a new cross-platform service to compete with content providers like Hulu and Netflix. Called Disney+, the service went live in November last year, offering exclusive content from Pixar, Marvel Studios, Star Wars as well as The Simpsons franchises under the same roof. While Disney+ is has been restricted to a handful of countries since its launch, Indians can enjoy its exclusive content with homegrown streaming app, Hotstar. The app has now been rebranded as “Disney+ Hotstar” and the content is available to all Premium members without any extra cost.
The online streaming Hotstar is owned by one of India’s largest TV networks – Star India, which was previously owned by 21st Century Fox. When Disney acquired Fox in 2018, all TV channels under the Star TV network as well as Hotstar became to be owned by the former. With the announcement of the new streaming service, it was also confirmed that Hotstar will host the content in India.
Hotstar’s Android app has recently been updated with a new user interface, logo, and splash screen. The update UI also exudes a Disney+ Hotstar branding along with a color scheme in line with Disney+. While Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame have been available on Hotstar since its release on Disney+, new titles are now being added to the app. Gadgets 360 compiled a list of titles now available on the platform and these include:
- Diary of a Future President
- Disney Family Sundays
- Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings
- Forky Asks a Question
- High School Musical: The Musical: The Series
- The Imagineering Story: Limited Series
- The Mandalorian
- Marvel’s Hero Project
- One Day at Disney
- Pick of the Litter
- Pixar in Real Life
- Shop Class
- Short Circuit
- The World According to Jeff Goldblum
While Hotstar operates with a freemium model and has three tiers of subscription. Besides the free tier, there’s Hotstar VIP, which mostly has Indian content but without any ads, and Hotstar Premium, which has paid Indian content along with international hits like Game of Thrones. Disney+ content will only be available for Hotstar Premium users and the membership for the same costs ₹199 ($2.70) a month or ₹999 ($13.50) a year.
We can also expect localization of content through audio dubbing in Indian languages as more Disney+ content is made available on the platform. While the majority of Disney’s content is now destined to be available via Hotstar, some short-form content also continues to be available on JioCinema.
Update: Hotstar officially pauses rollout of Disney+ Hotstar
Within 24 hours of the content first being spotted, Hotstar had already pulled back Disney+ content from its app and rolled back to the previous state. Now, the company has officially confirmed that it is pausing the rollout.
Mr. Uday Shankar, President at The Walt Disney Company APAC and Chairman at Star & Disney India, released a statement:
“We recently announced that Disney+ would launch in India through the Hotstar service in conjunction with beginning of the Indian Premier League cricket season. Given the delay of the season, we have made the decision to briefly pause the roll-out of Disney+ and will announce a new revised premiere date for the service soon.”
The rollout has thus been paused indefinitely. The decision to postpone the IPL 2020 season was taken in light of COVID-19, and consequently, the same has now pushed back this launch.
Update 2: Disney+ Hotstar finally rolls out officially
Hotstar is finally and officially rolling out Disney+ content in India.
The wait is (finally) over! Your favourite stories are now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar. Enjoy! pic.twitter.com/3KctGF5mLR
— Disney+HotstarPremium (@DisneyplusHSP) April 3, 2020
The VIP plan for the service is priced at ₹399 per year (increased from ₹365 per year for just Hotstar), while the Premium plan is priced at ₹1,499 per year (increased from ₹999 per year for just Hotstar). Existing customers under the plans will get full access to Disney+ content without any additional payment for the remainder of their validity duration. While some of the Disney+ content is available for VIP subscribers as well, you would still need the Premium subscription if you want access to Disney+ original content such as the Star Wars spinoff ‘The Mandalorian’ or all the movies under Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Disney.