Disney+ has finally arrived in India. The streaming service from Disney, which recently overtook Netflix in the US in terms of streaming as per a report, has landed in India to milk in on India’s growing appetite for streaming content. India is the largest entertainment market in Asia and has seen a string of streaming service debuts over the past half a decade.
Disney+ is launching in India via Hotstar, the streaming owned by Disney’s India subsidiary Star India. The service starts at ₹1499 a year, which in current exchange rates, turns out to be near-about $20. That $20 is the lowest that Disney+ is charging for subscription, across all of its currently live markets globally. That is the lure of India’s 1 billion+ consumer market, all equally crazy for entertainment and content. And that’s not it. There is a cheaper tier available for close to $5, but that does not provide access to US content or Disney+ Originals.
In terms of content offerings, a massive new library of content will now be available for Indian users. That includes all of Disney+ Originals in English and other Indian regional languages. Users will now also get access to a slew of new TV Channels, along with shows from HBO, Showtime and ABC. Some of these shows were already available on Hotstar via syndication, but the content library will see an increase.
A separate Disney+ branded section will help users navigate the Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic content available on the service. Subscribers can, similar to Hotstar, do unlimited downloads of all Disney+ movies and shows, as well as personalized recommendations. Additionally, parents can navigate through the kids-safe mode to access age-appropriate content.
Disney+ however is not offering the 4K streaming option that it offers in the US. Even bit-rates of the new India service is reportedly a tenth of what is being offered in the US. We are expecting these features to gradually make their way into India.
The launch however, hasn’t been the smoothest for one. Disney+ was originally scheduled to debut on March 29th along with the multi-billion dollar Indian Premier League. But with Government starting to ban public events and limiting crowd numbers amid Coronavirus outbreak, IPL was postponed. And with that, Disney announced an indefinite delay in the launch of Disney+ in India.
But then, a couple of days back, Disney made this sudden announcement, saying that the launch would happen on April 3rd.
In terms of the previously available free content on Hotstar, that continues to remain. Unsubscribed users will continue to get content such as daily catch-up TV shows in 8 Indian languages, a vast library of blockbuster bollywood movies and LIVE and on-demand news in 8 languages from the leading news channels in the country. Disney+ Hotstar will also have the usual sports clips offering for its free users, covering major sporting events such IPL, BCCI cricket series, Premier League, ISL and PKL.
The video streaming market in India is slated to reach $5 Billion, according to a report from the Boston Consulting Group. And there are a slew of players eyeing a piece of that. But what gives Disney+ an advantage, is the existing user base of Hotstar. Even though Hotstar amasses most of its users during the IPL, it has gradually added millions of active users on the platform with an aggressively expanding content library. Syndication deals such as the one with HBO, have helped the streaming platform gain significant viewership.