Over the last three years, Hotstar established itself as the streaming service to beat in India. A string of strategic content partnerships combined with aggressive pricing allowed Hotstar to eke out a healthy lead over the likes of Prime Video and Netflix in India, with the service clocking 300 million monthly active users last year.
And the service is about to get even better with Disney+ integration. Hotstar is owned by Disney — following the brand's acquisition of 20th Century Fox — and Disney's streaming service is being baked into Hotstar. The new service will be dubbed Disney + Hotstar, and it will be rolled out in India next month.
Integrating Disney+ into Hotstar is a smart move — Hotstar already has a huge install base, and by adding Disney+ content into the streaming service, Disney stands to gain millions of new subscribers in a matter of months. What's particularly interesting is that Disney is looking to leverage Hotstar's platform to roll out Disney+ in other Asian markets.
In Hotstar, Disney already has a streaming service that's well-established. By leveraging its pull, Disney is able to integrate its premium content — including the Star Wars universe, The Mandalorian, and its vast cinema catalog — seamlessly into a new platform that already has a massive userbase.
Hotstar already has the most diverse catalog of any streaming provider in India, offering a heady mix of regional content, international shows and movies, sports, and so much more. With the service holding exclusive rights to lucrative sporting events like the Indian Premier League (IPL), it's no wonder that it has hundreds of millions of users.
Hotstar also set a record for the most number of users simultaneously watching a livestream — 18.6 million users tuned in to see last year's IPL finale. Those figures are incredible to say the least, and a lot of Hotstar's success comes down to the fact that it has exclusive rights to most cricket tournaments, and users can stream for free. The free tier has ads, but the fact that users can access live sporting events gives Hotstar a distinct edge over Prime Video and Netflix.
That said, Hotstar's paid plan is a fantastic deal in its own right. For just ₹999 ($15) a year, you get unlimited access to Hotstar's entire portfolio of content, and that includes all HBO shows, Showtime content, and all sporting events, including golf, tennis, cricket, Formula 1, and so much more. The fact that you can stream all of this in 1080p for the equivalent of $15 a year is astounding. There's also a VIP package that includes access to all sporting events and regional content, and that comes in at just ₹365 ($5.10) a year.
Hotstar's annual plan in India is the best deal in streaming anywhere. To put things into context, Netflix's mobile-only plan costs ₹199 ($2.75) a month, and you don't even get the option to stream in HD. Of course, Disney has mentioned that it will raise prices once it rolls out Disney+ shows into Hotstar, but the service is still likely to be much more affordable than Netflix's HD streaming option.
Hotstar is an excellent streaming service, and Disney+ integration makes it even better.
With live cricket streaming and access to all major international sporting events, Hotstar is the go-to streaming platform in India. It also has all the latest HBO and Showtime shows, a vast content library featuring international and regional movies and TV shows, and it will be the home of Disney+ in India.
Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.
My only complaint about Hotstar is about their streaming tech. Takes far too much data for streaming than Netflix of Amazon
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