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Disney + Hotstar expands the content menu in the life after IPL

Disney + Hotstar expands the content menu in the life after IPL

In the process, it positions itself as a rival to Amazon Prime and helps crystallize streaming platforms in the Indian market.

On the one hand, sports viewing platforms are led by Reliance Industries-owned Viacom18 after it recently won the IPL digital streaming rights for 23,758 crore for 2023-27. On the other are entertainment-led platforms, possibly tough after the same set of post-pandemic subscribers in India.

The Walt Disney-owned streaming service buys big ticket movies and brings fresh online originals to the platform. Later this week, Hotstar will premiere Kamal Haasan’s latest Tamil hit Vikram, which it acquired for estimated 100 million kroner.

The platform increases the list of South Indian films and online shows and will use its international originals, including those from Marvel, dubbed in several languages ​​to woo young audiences, media analysts said.

One of them had previously estimated that the platform could lose up to 50% of its paid subscribers when IPL moves to Reliance-owned platforms.

“Disney + Hotstar will obviously see a direct impact (on existing subscriber base), which can be expected at 15-20 million users. This will still leave the brand with around 30 million user base, which will be quite neck-and-neck with Amazon Prime Video, “said Aditya Pandit, Assistant Media Director at Carat India Media Agency.

The “advantage” Hotstar derives from this is that it has saved the sensational sum needed to win the IPL rights, he said. “How well the brand maintains without IPL and leverages the huge savings will be a story to see,” Pandit added. points out that the platform will benefit from exclusive Disney and Marvel content.

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Disney + Hotstar is present in India and other Asian countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, with around 50 million subscribers.

Christine McCarthy, CEO and CFO of Walt Disney Co., said in her May call for results that the platform has around 500 shows in the pipeline for local content outside the English-speaking market, including 100 for India alone. .

Karan Taurani, an analyst at Elara Capital Ltd, said that in the coming months he could see the platform investing heavily in non-cricket content, including major online shows that could significantly increase the cost of web originals across the industry.

Apart from the latest international original Ms Marvel, which premiered in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam, Hotstar has announced the third season of the crime thriller Aarya, starring Sushmita Sen; Telugu political drama Parampara; Hindi original Shoorveer and a show with YouTuber Bhuvan Bam titled Taaza Khabar.

The platform did not respond to Mint’s inquiries about its strategies for dealing with a possible subscriber failure following the loss of IPL. However, a person familiar with the company’s strategy said that both Indian and international content would keep Hotstar subscribers hooked.

“Thor, which will be released this week, will be on Disney + Hotstar within 10 weeks. We also have coffee with Karan as an exclusive for streaming subscribers, which begins this week, “he said.

He added that cricket fans were not on Disney + Hotstar for IPL alone, given that the OTT service still has more cricket features.

“While the ICC and BCCI are in service until 2023, you will soon see the Asia Cup in August and then the T20 World Cup in October. So, yes, there may be some departures, but not to the extent projected by analysts,” he said. persons.

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However, in an earlier interview, Sidharth Shakdher, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Disney + Hotstar, said that the platform may have started as a destination for cricket, but that is no longer the case.

“We have the best of international content and local originals. If you’re a sports fan, of course cricket is too, but we do not have to hammer at that point anymore. What we need to build on is that we are one platform with the best Indian and international content. So that’s why there’s a greater bias towards it in our campaigns now, “said Shakdher.

Gaurav Banerjee, leader, content, Disney + Hotstar and HSM (Hindi-speaking markets) entertainment network, Disney Star India, also said earlier that the platform has received a “phenomenal response” for its regional, as well as called international, titles.

“With languages ​​no longer an obstacle to accessing compelling content, we aim to create different avenues for content discovery across Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam to keep audiences engaged at all times. We will continue to focus on South Indian content as we bring exciting titles to the audience, “he said.

A leader of a rival streaming platform agreed that Hotstar had to go on the offensive in regional languages ​​and premium movie offerings.

“Otherwise they risk losing the cricket base completely,” the person said, refusing to be named. At IPL, Hotstar is estimated to have earned approx. 1200 crore from both advertising and subscription.

To be sure, major video streaming companies such as Hotstar, Netflix, Prime Video, ZEE5 and SonyLIV may not have IPL rights to boast about, but will be able to sail through due to the large investments they have already made in other types. content, and because consumption patterns vary, said Kedar Kulkarni, vice president, digital, Puretech Digital, a digital agency.

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“Many people use these platforms as part of the agreement with their telecom provider. Audiences in tier-II and tier-III cities choose such agreements over an annual subscription,” said Kulkarni.

Subscriber departure may not be as easy to predict since annual packages will ensure that the public turns to content other than IPL that lasts only two months.

It would make a lot of sense even for Voot, the platform owned by Viacom18 that won IPL digital rights, to build its entertainment portfolio around IPL as a tent pole property, said Shailesh Kapoor, founder and CEO of the media consulting firm Ormax, since, so far it has not too many movies, and has focused on select web series.

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