While Americans await the roll-out of Disney+, Indians are already enjoying a Disney-owned streaming platform known as Hotstar. The service is a home-grown streaming platform that was acquired by the House of Mouse in the Fox deal. The best part of buying Hotstar for Disney is the vast portfolio of local language content that came along with it. Amazon and Netflix simply can’t compete with that. Newley Purnell reports for The Wall Street Journal:
India’s plummeting mobile-data prices and cheap smartphones have triggered an internet-access revolution in the world’s second-most-populous country. Global streaming services, local broadcasters and telecommunications companies are trying to capitalize with competing offerings to win new users, in a market where subscription and ad revenue are expected to skyrocket to $5 billion in 2023 from $500 million last year, according to BCG, a consultancy.
Streaming players are after consumers like Ashish Dubey. The 35-year-old driver watches Hotstar while waiting for his boss at his New Delhi office. He has heard of Netflix and Amazon but isn’t interested in their programs. “I subscribed mainly for cricket,” he says.
Hotstar says its global rivals can’t match its library of decades of popular shows, which it inherited as a subsidiary of Star India. Disney acquired Star India, a 28-year-old network of more than 10 Indian television channels, as part of its $71.3 billion deal in March to buy the bulk of the 21st Century Fox entertainment assets.
“We have a two-decade head start,” says Varun Narang, Hotstar’s chief product officer. About 80% of content on the platform is free; the rest costs as little as $1.19 a month for everything.
When Amazon and Netflix landed in India, they each brought global libraries of hundreds of shows and movies, but only a small portion was in local languages. They had little popular content from India.
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