Operations in India will include two tiers of service and be launched on March 29. That is earlier than Disney had previously indicated, but coincides with the start of the massively popular IPL cricket tournament, which Hotstar screens. The announcement was made Tuesday by Disney boss Bob Iger on a conference call following the company’s financial results presentation.
“We will be rebranding our existing Hotstar VIP and Premium subscription tiers 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,” Iger said.
“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.”
Hotstar was launched five years ago, in early 2015 and coinciding with another cricket series, and has become the dominant OTT platform in India. Hotstar offers multiple levels of service, ranging from an ad-supported basic tier to a $14 per month package with content from HBO, ABC and Showtime. It claims 100 million weekly active users and 300 million MAUs.
There has recently been discussion of raising subscription fees at Hotstar, but Iger did not reveal how the new tiers would be priced.
“We’re not giving specifics about price at this point, but expect that there’ll be two primary products brought into India. 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. (They will be) priced for the market and launched at a very peak period of time,” Iger said.
Disney Plus was launched in November last year and has already amassed 28.6 million subscribers.