Disney Plus service to stream in India from March 29 through Hotstar

Disney has announced that its subscription-based streaming service Disney Plus, which launched in the US in November last year, will arrive in India on March 29 through its Hotstar app.

The announcement was made by Disney CEO Robert Iger during the company's quarterly earnings call on Tuesday.

"We're excited to announce that we will be launching Disney Plus in India through our Hotstar service on March 29th at the beginning of the Indian Premier League cricket season," Iger said.
Though the Disney top boss didn't go into the specifics, he said the company will rebrand the Hotstar app to "Disney Plus Hotstar".

"We see this as a great opportunity to use the proven platform of Hotstar to launch the new Disney Plus service in one of the most populous countries and fastest growing economies in the world," he added.

Disney had acquired Hotstar streaming service in 2017 as part of its acquisition of Fox Studios, which also included the entire Star India group. As of now, most of the premium Disney content is available on Hotstar app.

But the decision to club Disney Plus with Hotstar will enable the Indian subscribers to finally watch some of the newer content from the studio's streaming service, most notably "Star Wars" spin-off series "The Mandalorian" which is currently only available on Disney Plus. Iger said the company is yet to finalise the pricing aspect of the rebranded streaming service, but it will be offered in two categories.

"One will be more premium in nature that will include the entire library, so with the original programming and the other one will be more basic that will have the library and not the original programming," he said.

The Disney CEO also revealed that the company hopes to capitalise on the Indian Premiere League as Star India is the official broadcaster of the league.

"Priced for the market and launched at a very peak period of time for the IPL, the cricket league.

"And so, we think it's an opportune moment, we take advantage of the presence of Star in the market and the millions of subscribers that they also have, we take advantage of the sports tie-in, and we use the interface and the technology that includes the billing that already exists to launch a service, we believe, under very, very optimal circumstances," Iger added.

With Hotstar and Disney Plus bundled together, the company hopes to take on the competition from existing players in the country's streaming market, particularly Netflix and Amazon, who have already established a wide variety of Indian content on their platforms.

The streaming service also faces competition with domestic players such as ALTBalaji, Zee5, Eros Now, Sony Liv and Voot.

During the earnings call, Iger also announced Disney Plus has so far amassed 28.6 million paid subscribers after its debut in the US on November 12, 2019.

Besides India, Disney Plus is also set for rollout in the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland on March 24. 

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