Disney+ Hotstar subscriber base grows to 8.63 million in India
Disney-owned video streaming service Disney+ Hotstar had about 8.63 million subscribers in India for the quarter ended June, accounting for 15% of the company’s flagship streaming service’s user base which stood at 57.3 million for the quarter.

This translates to an estimated 625,000 new subscriber additions in the April-June period in the country. Disney+, which debuted in the country on top of Hotstar earlier this year, had disclosed that its India subscriber base stood at 8 million in April, when it crossed the 50-million subscriber milestone across the world.

Disney chief financial officer Christine McCarthy also mentioned during the company’s earnings call that Disney+’s overall average revenue per user (ARPU) was $4.62 for the quarter. However, excluding Disney+ Hotstar, it was $5.31.

This effectively means that Disney+ Hotstar makes about $0.71 (Rs 53.16 at the current exchange rates) from each subscriber in India every quarter.

Its ARPU, however, is likely to rise further in the coming months as the service recently undertook a price hike in India when Disney+ launched through Hotstar in the country. The cost of entry-level plan ‘Disney+ Hotstar VIP’ was hiked to Rs 399 per year, while for ‘Disney+ Hotstar Premium’ it was increased to Rs 1,499 per year from Rs 999 per year.

Disney chief executive Bob Chapek announced that they are also rolling out Disney+ Hotstar in Indonesia on September 5 and Disney+ in the Nordic region, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Portugal in the same month, and in Latin America in November. “By year-end, Disney+ will be available in nine of the top 10 economies in the world,” Chapek said, adding that Disney+ has surpassed 60.5 million paid subscribers across the world, as of Monday.

It’s worth noting that Disney+ Hotstar operates on a freemium model where it also offers content on a free ad-supported model, unlike Disney+ which only offers paid subscriptions.

Read: After Amazon, Disney+ Hotstar to premiere seven Bollywood movies

Star-branded streaming service

Also, in the works is an international direct-to-consumer general entertainment offering under the Star brand in 2021. The service will include its own content from 20th Century Studios, ABC Studios, Fox Television, FX, Freeform, and Searchlight. It will not have any licenced content from third-party players.

“In many markets, the offering will be fully integrated into Disney+ platform from both a marketing and a technology perspective, and it will be distributed under the Star brand which has been successfully utilized by the company for other general entertainment platform launches, particularly with Disney+ Hotstar in India,” Chapek said in the conference call.

The move comes at a time when streaming services are expected to drive the growth of the media and entertainment conglomerate which is hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Disney posted a quarterly loss of nearly $4.72 billion — its first since 2001.

While Chapek didn’t disclose any details on the specific timeline or pricing of the service, it is likely that the content from these studios will be made available through Disney+ Hotstar in India. Hotstar is yet to respond to ET’s query on this move.

In India, Disney+ Hotstar competes with players like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Essel Group’s Zee5, Times Internet’s MX Player, Viacom18’s Voot, and Reliance-backed ALT Balaji among others.

*Disclosure: Times Internet owns ETtech





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