India’s Streaming Star

Disney’s Hotstar crosses 400 million app downloads

Disney-owned streaming platform Hotstar, the dominant video-on-demand service in India, has now surpassed 400 million app downloads in the country.

Launched in 2015, Hotstar is owned by Disney since the latter bought the entertainment assets of 21st Century Fox earlier in 2019. Hotstar has also rolled out in the US and the UK this year, and there are plans to expand into South-East Asia. The platform offers 100,000 hours of TV shows and movies in eight languages, as well as regional and national news, and national and international sports coverage.

According to a report published by Hotstar last week, content consumption on the platform was three times higher in 2019 than in the previous year and downloads of the app were double those it recorded in 2018. For perspective, the service clocked 555 installs per minute over the past 12 months as Indian consumers break old stereotypes and defy conventional wisdom.

Mobile devices are becoming the preferred way of watching entertainment in India, as the prices of smartphones drop and these devices become widely used, helped by easy access to low-cost data plans — India has one of the cheapest data rates in the world. Until just a few years ago, online entertainment was restricted to India’s urban affluent consumers. However, thanks to ubiquitous connectivity and affordable hardware and service plans, non-metropolitan areas are now fuelling the use of online entertainment. Streaming services have become widespread in India, with consumers spanning most demographics and geographies now accessing online entertainment content.

Hotstar offers a spectrum of genres, addressing the varied demand throughout India. Although cricket remains extremely popular, consumers have shown a growing appetite for football and other sports.

The realm of consumer experience has stretched beyond providing mobility and convenience. Today’s users want to have a say and aren’t satisfied with a passive experience: they look to interact with the screen, express their opinions and share the experience with friends and family. Online viewing is becoming an immersive and social experience.

Hotstar launched an interactive game, Watch ‘N Play, during live Vivo IPL matches to give a voice to its viewers and the opportunity to interact with others. About 64 million spectators participated in Watch ‘N Play, twice as many as in 2018.

The key to wooing the Indian audience seems to be exclusivity. Hotstar understands this and seems to be getting it right, as rival streaming services in India such as Amazon Prime and Netflix, leaders in other markets, are playing catch-up to the home-grown service. Hotstar has the edge in sporting events because of its tie-ups with major sports leagues and tournaments. For example, it has exclusive rights to broadcast the ICC Cricket World Cup. This is an incredible advantage in India.

Just as the Disney+ streaming service has become a star in the US, its Hotstar service in India has become a big plus for Disney on the sub-continent.