Bharti Airtel on Monday announced a strategic partnership with Star India-owned video streaming platform Hotstar, thus enabling its prepaid and postpaid subscribers to view the latter’s content via its Airtel TV app for free.
Airtel is the second mobile operator to have signed such a pact with Hotstar after Reliance Jio, which signed the agreement way back in 2016. However, customers will have to pay for viewing premium content. In effect, there’s not much of exclusivity in terms of pricing in such tie-ups and they only help mobile operators to build their TV apps by aggregating content.
Currently, one can view Hotstar without paying any subscription charge even without Jio TV app or Airtel TV app. For viewing premium content, consumers will have to pay a monthly charge of Rs 199 – whether it is via the Airtel or Jio app or without them.
Operators cannot offer for free any content to their subscribers through such tie-ups because discriminatory tariff regulation bars them from differential pricing of any content which is available on the web. The only way they can offer free content to their users is by buying content and building their own library on the intranet. The Hotstar pact, either by Airtel or by Jio, is not the intranet kind, therefore whatever is coming free to consumers of these two operators will also be free otherwise.
Sameer Batra, CEO, Wynk, said: “Hotstar’s rich content library will add immense value to our content play and add to the user experience. Airtel TV’s new version has received an extremely positive response from users and we will continue to bring exciting content and in-app innovations to delight them.”
“Airtel has among the widest consumer footprints in India and with our expansive content library, comprising rich programming that can cater across age groups, geographies and interests, there are natural synergy,” Ajit Mohan, CEO of Hotstar, said.
Hotstar claims that currently it has a monthly subscriber base of 100 million.
According to a recent study released by Counterpoint Research in December 2017, the video over-the-top (OTT) market is currently valued at $280 million with nearly 100 million subscribers. The market, which is estimated to grow at a rate of 35% Y-o-Y, has Hotstar as the largest player with 75 million monthly active subscribers, followed by Viacom18’s Voot at 22 million, Amazon Prime Video at 11 million subscribers, and Sony Liv and Netflix at 5 million, each.