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Disney+ to make its India debut through merger with Hotstar on 29 March

Move will give stiff competition to India's already-crowded OTT market, where Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Zee 5, ALTBalaji, Voot and Sony LIV are popular.

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New Delhi: Disney+, an OTT platform launched in November last year, is set for its India debut through a merger with Hotstar.

Chairman-CEO of Walt Disney Bob Iger announced the merger at its Q1 2020 earnings meeting Tuesday.

At the meeting, Iger said the company will be rebranding Hotstar as ‘Disney+ Hotstar’ on 29 March when the IPL cricket tournament begins.

The subscription rates of Hotstar VIP and Hotstar Premium are also set to be revised. According to reports, Hotstar Premium, which currently costs about ₹1,000 a year, is set to be doubled to ₹2,000, making it one of the most expensive streaming services in the country.

At the meeting, Iger also mentioned that the revised subscription plans might fall into two categories — a premium one that will give a user access to Disney+ Hotstar’s entire library, and another that will give access to only a few ‘essential’ programmes. 

The move will give stiff competition to an already crowded OTT market in India, where Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Zee 5, ALTBalaji, MX Player, Voot and Sony LIV are so popular.

Hotstar is a product of Star India, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company. 

It is the most popular streaming service in the country with over 300 million monthly active users. It broke all records last year when 25.3 million concurrent viewers live-streamed the ICC men’s World Cup 2019 semi-final between India and New Zealand. 

Earlier in 2019, about 18.6 million concurrent viewers had live streamed the IPL 2019 finals on the streaming giant. 

This means Disney+ will enter India with a huge existing subscriber base. 

Also read: Disney+ app outpaces rival streaming platforms in its first 2 months

Disney is no stranger to India

Disney+ itself is making strides — the streaming giant already enjoys more than 26.5 million subscribers. It took Netflix five years to reach that number. 

For India, Disney is no stranger, as its content has enjoyed a huge fan base in the country.

Last year Avengers: End Game became the biggest international opener in the country and subsequently, the highest-grossing Hollywood film in India, crossing the ₹350-crore mark. 

Avengers: End Game is a Marvel movie, a franchise owned by Disney.

The unique selling point of Disney+ is its focused content — it streams TV shows and movies only from the house of Disney. 

Yet, this doesn’t limit people’s choices since Walt Disney has plenty of content to offer, including shows like The Simpsons, all the movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel shows and Pixar movies, including Toy Story and Finding Nemo.

Also read: Netflix faces the heat as Disney+ & Apple TV+ step up competition


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