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Disney+ Hotstar to stop streaming HBO shows from March 31

Disney+ Hotstar is set to lose the rights to stream HBO content from March 31, 2023, marking yet another setback for the Disney-owned video streaming service.

The development comes a month after Disney CEO Bob Iger announced plans to cut $5.5 billion in costs, which includes about $3 billion in non-sports related content and $2.5 billion in non-content related costs. The company had also laid off around 7,000 employees or about 3.6 percent of its global workforce, as part of this measure.

“Starting March 31, HBO content will be unavailable on Disney+ Hotstar. You can continue enjoying Disney+ Hotstar’s vast library of content spanning over 100,000 hours of TV Shows and Movies in 10 languages and coverage of major global sporting events,” the company said in a tweet.

Hotstar has been streaming HBO’s original shows since January 2016, after Disney Star (previously Star India) had struck an exclusive tie-up with HBO in December 2015. These shows, particularly Game of Thrones, which were available to Indian consumers on the same day as the US telecast, were a key part of Hotstar’s strategy to attract paid subscribers in the country.

The service was later rebranded as Disney+ Hotstar in April 2020, paving the way for the launch of its flagship streaming service Disney+ on top of Hotstar. This was after Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox that owned Star India, a deal that was completed in 2019.

Last month, Disney reported that Disney+ Hotstar lost 3.8 million paid subscribers for the first quarter ended December 31, 2022, registering the biggest-ever quarterly subscriber decline since the media and entertainment conglomerate started disclosing the service’s paid member base in April 2020.

This was after the country’s leading streaming service lost the streaming rights for the IPL tournament for the 2023-2027 period to Viacom18 in June 2022, a move that led to Disney lowering the subscriber target for Disney+ Hotstar in August 2022.

Disney+ Hotstar’s paid member base was at 57.5 million for the December-ended quarter, a 6 percent decline from 61.3 million in the previous quarter. The service accounted for about 35.5 percent of the total paid subscriber base of Disney+, which was at 161.8 million for the quarter.

Disney’s Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy said in August 2022 that they expect Disney+ Hotstar’s paid subscriber base to reach up to 80 million by the end of fiscal 2024. Disney+ Hotstar is currently available in India and certain Southeast Asia markets such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, although a majority of the subscribers are from India.

It is currently not clear where HBO plans to offer these shows in the future. Last year, Warner Bros Discovery had scrapped plans to launch HBO Max streaming service in India amid wider restructuring at the company.

The company now plans to introduce a global streaming service that combines content from HBO Max and Discovery+, however, it is yet to disclose more information on the rollout plans.

In July 2022, Warner Bros Discovery signed a licensing agreement with Amazon Prime Video to offer a selection of original content from HBO Max in India.

As per the deal, Amazon Prime Video is offering 11 original series and 10 original features, including The Flight Attendant, the Gossip Girl reboot, the Sex and the City sequel called And Just Like That and the sci-fi drama Raised By Wolves to its customers in India.

Moneycontrol has reached out to HBO and Disney for a comment and will update the story once we hear back. Moneycontrol

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