Disney+ Hotstar (known as Hotstar outside India and Indonesia) is an Indian subscription video on-demand streaming service owned and operated by Star India, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company India. It features two paid subscription plans — "VIP", which focuses on domestic programmes and sports content (including Indian Premier League), and "Premium" featuring premium international films and television series (including HBO, Showtime, Disney+ original series and other original series). As of July 2020, VIP Plan costs ₹399 for a year and Premium Plan costs ₹1,499 per year or ₹299 for a monthly plan. As of March 2020[update], Disney+ Hotstar has at least 300 million active users.
Disney+ Hotstar homepage on 3 October 2020
|Type of business||Subsidiary|
Type of site
|Headquarters||Star House, Urmi Estare, Lower Parel, Mumbai, India|
|Country of origin||India|
|Area served||As Disney+ Hotstar:|
|Owner||Star India (The Walt Disney Company India)|
|Alexa rank||246 (20 September 2020)|
|Users||9 million (paid, as of August 3, 2020)|
300 million active users (May 2020)
|Launched||11 February 2015 (as Hotstar)|
3 April 2020 (as Disney+ Hotstar)
In February 2020, following the purchase of Star India's parent company 21st Century Fox by Disney in 2019, the company announced plans to integrate its new international streaming brand Disney+ with Hotstar in April 2020—leveraging Hotstar's existing infrastructure and userbase. On 3 April 2020, the platform was merged with Disney+.
Star India officially launched Hotstar in 11 February 2015 after fifteen months of development, coinciding with the upcoming 2015 Indian Premier League (for which Star had recently acquired the streaming rights). The ad-supported service initially featured a library of over 35,000 hours of content in seven regional languages, as well as live streaming coverage of sports such as cricket (deferred live), football, and kabaddi. Star CEO Sanjay Gupta felt that there "[weren't] many platforms available to Indian consumers offering high-quality, curated content besides, say, YouTube", and explained that the service would appeal most prominently to the growing young adult demographic, and feature "very targeted" advertising. He estimated that by 2020, the service could account for nearly a quarter of Star's annual revenue.
In April 2016, Hotstar launched a subscription tier primarily oriented towards international content and the possibility of premium sports content. The service launched alongside a new deal to carry HBO content uncut on the platform, with its introduction coinciding with the season 6 premiere of Game of Thrones.
The 2016 launch of the LTE-only wireless carrier Jio spurred the growth of mobile broadband in India, and was credited in turn for having bolstered the growth of streaming video in the country. While international services such as Prime Video and Netflix have seen some growth in the Indian market, Hotstar has remained the dominant streaming service. By July 2017, Hotstar's apps had reached 300 million downloads, and it was reported as being the top video streaming app in the country.
In May 2018, it was reported that the service had 75–100 million active users per-month. In September 2018, Hotstar CEO Ajit Mohan left to become the vice-president and managing director of Facebook India. That month, it was reported that the service had begun to restructure its leadership to have separate executives for its ad-supported and premium services, and, aided by new funding from Star US Holdings, planned to increase its production of premium original content to better-compete with Amazon and Netflix, amidst concerns that the service was beginning to haemorrhage cash.
By 2019, the service had over 150 million active users monthly. In March 2019, ahead of the 2019 Indian Premier League, Hotstar migrated existing subscribers of its All Annual Sports plan to a new entry-level plan known as Hotstar VIP. Intended as an introductory option, it includes access to sports content (including the IPL, 2019 Cricket World Cup, and English Premier League football), early access to serials before their television broadcast, access to content from the new Hotstar Specials banner of content, and can be paid for using cash. Chief product officer Varun Narang described the offering as "a value proposition built with the Indian audience at the heart of it".
Acquisition by Disney, integration with Disney+Edit
During a February 2020 earnings call, Iger announced that its recently launched international streaming brand Disney+ and its original programming would be integrated into Hotstar as part of a re-launch on 29 March 2020. Iger stated that the service's launch (originally scheduled to coincide with opening day of the 2020 Indian Premier League) would take advantage of Hotstar's "proven platform" and existing customer base. The Motley Fool described Hotstar as being Disney's "secret weapon" in the market due to its already-dominant position.
Hotstar began to soft launch the expanded service for some users in March. On 20 March 2020, in recognition of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated delay of the IPL season, Disney announced that it had postponed the launch to 3 April. The service officially launched with a "virtual red carpet premiere" of The Lion King and Disney+ series The Mandalorian, featuring actors Rana Daggubati, Katrina Kaif, Shraddha Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, and Tiger Shroff participating in live interactions.
In India, the service is operated as both a free ad-supported service, and two subscription-based tiers. The ad-supported service includes access to selected Indian films and Star series after their television broadcast. The Disney+ Hotstar VIP subscription is oriented towards domestic content, including series from Star's Indian-language television networks and the Hotstar Specials banner, early access to Star's Indian television serial programs before their television premiere, cricket coverage, Premier League football from the United Kingdom, and access to content from the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise. The Hotstar Premium tier adds access to premium international films and series, including content from Disney (including all Disney+ original content), HBO, Showtime and much of Disney's 20th Century Studios content.
Some early original content on the service included the news comedy program On Air With AIB, and CinePlay. In March 2019, the service launched a new premium original content brand, Hotstar Specials, with the first production being Roar of the Lion—a docudrama miniseries chronicling the Chennai Super Kings in the 2018 Indian Premier League. Hotstar stated that these series would be at least six episodes in length, be available in seven regional languages (Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu) and focus on providing "big-scale, high-quality drama". Hotstar partnered with a large number of Indian filmmakers to produce series for the brand.
In December 2015, Hotstar gained domestic streaming rights to current and past HBO original series, as part of Star's larger deal with the network. It reached a similar deal with Showtime in July 2017.
In October 2018, Hotstar partnered with HOOQ to offer its content on its premium service, including rights to films and series from its co-owners Sony Pictures and Warner Bros., as well as its other content partners. The partnership between Hotstar and HOOQ ended in 2020 when the latter shut down due to bankruptcy. It was eventually acquired by Coupang in July 2020.
On 29 June 2020, Hotstar launched a new venture, Disney+Hotstar Multiplex. Under this new venture, Hotstar is offering a Friday release of new Bollywood movies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting with Dil Bechara on 24 July 2020, followed by The Big Bull, Lootcase, Khuda Haafiz, Laxmmi Bomb, Bhuj: The Pride of India, Sadak 2, etc.
In 4 September 2017, Star Sports acquired the entirety of the media rights to the Indian Premier League, with Hotstar acting as the international digital rightsholder. Afterward, Hotstar launched an international subscription service in Canada and the United States, aimed towards providing its domestic Indian content and sports. Hotstar launched in the United Kingdom in 13 September 2018, to coincide with the 2018 Asia Cup. These versions operate solely without Disney+ content on the service.
In August 2020, Disney announced that it would be rolling out the streaming service to Indonesia on 5 September 2020. Indonesia is the first region outside India to use the Disney+ Hotstar brand name.
On October 19, 2020, Star India announced that Hotstar would officially launch in Singapore on November 1, 2020.
|Release date||Country/Territory||Release partner||Notes|
|11 February 2015||India||Rebranded as Disney+ Hotstar on 3 April 2020|
|4 September 2017||Canada||Launched as Hotstar|
|13 September 2018||United Kingdom|
|5 September 2020||Indonesia||Telkomsel||Launched as Disney+ Hotstar|
|1 November 2020[b]||Singapore||StarHub||Launched as Hotstar|
The 2019 Indian Premier League repeatedly broke records for concurrent viewership on Hotstar, with the 2019 final setting a new "global record" peak of 18.6 million. US website TechCrunch credited these gains to the extensive growth of internet usage in the country. This was surpassed during the semi-final of the 2019 Cricket World Cup between India and New Zealand, with 25.3 million. After the India-Pakistan match earlier in the tournament, Hotstar surpassed 100 million daily users.
The HBO series Last Week Tonight has faced censorship on Hotstar since the purchase of the service by Disney[by whom? – Discuss]; two episodes were edited to remove jokes referencing Disney characters, including a November 2019 episode on the US census relating to a PSA featuring Mickey Mouse (where Oliver claimed the character was a "crack addict", and a scene was also cropped to obscure an on-screen graphic relating to the joke), and a remark about Donald Duck's penis being "shaped like a corkscrew" during an episode discussing China's one-child policy. In February 2020, Hotstar also refused to carry an episode that contained segments critical of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, which had alleged that his policy of Hindu nationalism was a growing threat to democracy in India.
The programme's host John Oliver addressed all three instances of censorship by Hotstar in the 8 March 2020 episode. He placed a larger emphasis on the censorship of Disney references, however, jokingly arguing that he resented the censorship of his "factually accurate" Donald Duck joke more than the Modi episode being pulled, and alluded to his role of Zazu in Disney's 2019 CGI remake of The Lion King.
- Available only for migrant workers in invite only mode until November 1st
- The service launched on a invite-only mode for Indian migrant workers on April 30, 2020.
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