Disney+ eyes 230-260 million subscribers by FY24-end

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December 12, 2020 2:30 AM

The US-based streaming platform that is eyeing an estimated 230-260 million subscribers by the end of FY2024 expects Disney+Hotstar to account for about 30%-40% of the projected subscriptions, The Walt Disney Company said at its investor day 2020 on Thursday.

The pandemic has only added to the video viewership as home-bound consumers took to exploring content across over-the-top (OTT) services. (Photo source: Reuters)

Disney+Hotstar drives nearly 30% of Disney+’s global subscriber base that touched 86.8 million as of December 2, 2020. This means that paid users of the Disney+Hotstar service stands at about 26 million led by India. To be sure, Disney+Hotstar also made its foray into Indonesia in September.

The US-based streaming platform that is eyeing an estimated 230-260 million subscribers by the end of FY2024 expects Disney+Hotstar to account for about 30%-40% of the projected subscriptions, The Walt Disney Company said at its investor day 2020 on Thursday.

Rebecca Campbell, chairman, international operations & direct to consumer at The Walt Disney Company, said with a “rapidly growing middle class and expanding discretionary spending,” India offers a promising market opportunity. “And we are uniquely positioned to succeed in India due to our existing presence with Star TV and Hotstar digital brands,” Campbell said.

A deluge of cheap smartphones, affordable data prices and increasing appetite for individual content has fuelled the growth of video consumption in the country. The pandemic has only added to the video viewership as home-bound consumers took to exploring content across over-the-top (OTT) services.

Analysts estimate the number of OTT users in India to reach 500 million by the end of the current year, making the country the second largest OTT market after the US. Disney said partnership with telecom provider Jio that reaches over 400 million consumers in India has helped in driving “rapid growth” of Disney+Hotstar in the country. “Together with Jio, we made it simple and convenient for prepaid mobile customers to access Disney+Hotstar,” the firm said.

Disney+Hotstar’s rich slate of sports content, including IPL (Indian Premier League) is a big draw for Indian consumers who thrive on cricket, and gives it an edge over competitors that comprise a mix of global players Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and a clutch of home-grown platforms like Zee5, AltBalaji, Voot Select among others.

Besides, content from Star India’s network of TV channels, bouquet of originals and movies in local languages, and selection of international titles from Disney’s library at affordable price points has widened the reach of the service, analysts said. Along with Prime Video and Netflix, Disney+Hotstar also acquired most of the direct-to-digital movies including Akshay Kumar’s Laxmii.

The OTT firm offers content in seven regional languages and churns out 17,000 hours of local programming annually.Campbell said Disney+Hotstar will be enhanced with the addition of local programming. The strategy is to “grow with premium content for everyone”. Disney+ aims to spend anywhere between $8-$9 billion on content by FY24, the company said in an investor presentation. At the event, the streaming firm showcased a line-up of tentpole properties and movies like Jungle Cruise, Pinocchio that will start getting premiered on the platform starting next year.

Rivals Amazon Prime Video and Netflix too are betting big on India. While Amazon Prime’s e-commerce Play gives it easy access to untapped markets in the country, Netflix is wooing users with a cheap mobile-only pack and free streaming fests. Co-ceo Reed Hastings had earmarked a whopping Rs 3,000 crore for India content through 2019 and 2020.

“The single most effective way to grow our subscriber base is with great content. And, as we increase our output, the emphasis will always be on quality, not volume. Quality holds value,” said Bob Iger, executive chairman, The Walt Disney Company, and chairman of the board of directors.

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