This April saw Disney taking its first significant steps to crack the streaming market in India. Disney+ was launched on 3 April, and it was rolled out through the popular Hotstar on-demand video service. Disney acquired Hotstar as part of the $71 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox in March 2019. By running its service through Hotstar, Disney+ will be hoping to reach the service's 300 million user base. While the Indian video streaming market was worth half a billion dollars two years ago, such is its rate of increase that the nation's streaming market is skyrocketing to $5 billion.
What will feature on Disney+ India?
Subscribers to the new service could get to enjoy full access to original Disney content in English and many local Indian languages, as well television shows and movies produced by US channels like ABC, Showtime, ABC and Fox. This is in addition to the thousands of television shows and movies featured initially on Hotstar.
Among the dozens of options, there will be a special place to cover the hugely popular Indian Premier League. This cricket tournament is by far the largest attraction on the Hotstar Network, and it racked up 25 million simultaneous views at one point giving it a world record for concurrent live stream viewing figures. Cricket fans throughout the country are using Hotstar and live cricket streaming services from popular bookmakers to follow the IPL action. But their passion doesn't just end there, as many enjoy placing bets during the matches and betting on live cricket sites a hugely popular way to enhance the entertainment.
How much will Disney+ India cost?
Disney has made a point of offering Disney+ to Indian customers at a relatively lower cost than other nations. The cheapest offering is set at $5.30 per year, and while it doesn't feature Disney Originals or the above US television channels, it does include thousands of movies, shows and live sports. However, the premium subscription that features the full Disney+ service will cost Indian customers $20 each year.
Will Disney+ succeed in India?
Disney+ was only launched in November 2019, but it has since amassed over 54 million subscribers as of May 2020. The video-on-demand streaming service currently focuses its attention in North America, Europe and Australasia, and its move into India marks a significant step into emerging markets.
Some critics have stated that much of Disney's original content and featured US channels might not be suitable for an Indian customer base that is more appreciative of homegrown soap operas and Bollywood movies. Disney+ India will face a further lack of original content since one of Hotstar's partners, Hooq, filed for bankruptcy and was shut down at the end of April 2020.
Plus the ongoing coronavirus crisis has meant that the hugely lucrative Indian Premier League has been suspended until further notice. This could be deeply problematic as Hotstar saw its user base falling from 300 million to 60 million after the end of the cricket tournament last season.
The global ambitions of Disney+
There's a worldwide race between media giants like Disney, Netflix and Amazon to capture a share of emerging on-demand video streaming markets. Although Disney+ has over 54 million subscribers, this pales in comparison to the 187 million paid worldwide Netflix memberships. Plus with the growing popularity of Amazon Fire TV, it looks like Disney faces a fierce battle.
However, Disney+ has already made positive inroads into European markets with countries like the UK, France and Germany seeing a massive increase in subscribers. There are also plans to bring Disney+ into Japan and the whole of Latin America before the end of 2020. Plus with the ongoing pandemic causing Disney to bring forward the streamed release of big-name titles like Frozen 2, it looks like Disney+ is well-placed to take advantage of the booming on-demand video streaming trend.