Disney+Hotstar announces fresh slate of India originals, new subscription plans

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July 28, 2021 2:45 AM

Similar to strategies adopted by Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, Disney+Hotstar will introduce a Rs 499 yearly mobile-only plan starting September 1, the company said at a virtual event on Tuesday. Besides, a new annual Super plan costing `899 will be available for consumers from the same date.

The shows will be collectively streamed across 2021 and some parts of 2022.

Disney+Hotstar has lined up a fresh content slate of nearly 20 India originals across series and movies and is revising its pricing plans to launch more affordable subscription packages as it looks to broaden its reach in the country and add to its user base.

Similar to strategies adopted by Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, Disney+Hotstar will introduce a Rs 499 yearly mobile-only plan starting September 1, the company said at a virtual event on Tuesday. Besides, a new annual Super plan costing `899 will be available for consumers from the same date.

The company is also enhancing its existing Rs 1,499 annual Premium subscription plan by adding device flexibility. Subscribers of all the plans will get access to the complete content catalogue. The tweak in the video-streaming firm’s pricing strategy comes at a time when more Indians are experimenting with OTT (over-the-top) content.

The pandemic induced suspension of theatres and other leisure avenues have exposed more consumers to content across varied OTT platforms and some of them may have taken to OTT viewing for good, say analysts. Companies led by Disney+Hotstar Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have made significant investments to build a diverse local library of content across languages to get more eyeballs.

Indian OTT content investments are estimated to have already reached $700 million in 2020 compared to $600 million in 2019, according to analysts at Media Partners Asia. With budgets for originals and local acquisitions trending upwards, OTT content costs are projected to grow at a CAGR of 18% between 2020-25 to reach $1.6 billion.

“With the newly introduced subscription plans, we want to make our content more accessible to our viewers by offering best-in-class entertainment while allowing them to choose the plan that best suits their needs,” said Sunil Rayan, president & head, Disney+ Hotstar. “The content slate demonstrates our relentless pursuit of bringing original and locally relevant stories to our consumers,” Rayan added.

As it attempts to cater to varied audiences, the OTT player is also planning to launch Telugu originals besides expanding its library of Tamil originals. India is a key growth market for Disney+ and Disney+Hotstar subscribers make up nearly a third of the company’s total subscriber base. Disney+Hotstar’s popularity can partly be attributed to its rich sports content, particularly cricket that commands a huge following in India. The OTT firm said it will continue to bring live streams of cricket tournaments, including Vivo IPL 2021 and the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, all within the next six months. The platform will also showcase live streams of upcoming Tennis, Football and F1 tournaments.

Competition in the local OTT space is rising amid a growing appetite for digital services. While there have been new entrants like Lionsgate Play, there is also no dearth of regional only players like Hoichoi and niche players like Mubi.
Disney+Hotstar, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have been aggressively acquiring direct-to-OTT movies to keep the flow of content intact.

Disney+Hotstar’s upcoming slate includes movies like Ajay Devgn starrer Bhuj: The Pride of India, Saif Ali Khan-led horror-comedy Bhoot Police, season 2 of web series Arya featuring Sushmita Sen, Six Suspects starring Pratik Gandhi among others. The shows will be collectively streamed across 2021 and some parts of 2022.

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