Why Disney+ Is Not Launching In The Ultra-Competitive Indian OTT Market

Digitisation has led to an array of new players in every sector. One of the most flooded and promising industries in India currently is the over-the-top (OTT) service providers. However, the competition seems to be making international players rethink their entry or come up with unique propositions for the Indian market. Walt Disney, which launched the much-awaited ad-free video streaming service Disney+ this week in the United States, may not launch the services in India and instead route the original content to Indian audiences through Hotstar.

Hotstar, the video streaming service owned by Star India, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, currently leads the OTT market in India. The video streaming platform had earlier announced that it achieved more than 300 Mn monthly subscribers during the IPL cricket tournament and ICC World Cup earlier this year. The company also flagged off a global record when more than 25 Mn users simultaneously streamed one of the matches.

When Inc42 tried to contact Hotstar regarding the latest move, it said that currently nothing is finalised and it will soon make an official announcement on the media speculation. One of the reasons for Disney+ not being launched in India and instead proposing to route through Hotstar could be the increased demand for vernacular content. Hotstar can help Disney+ by localising the movies and shows, either by dubbing or by adding subtitles in Indian languages, including Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Currently, Hotstar Specials, Hotstar’s original content, is available in seven Indian languages.

Indian Market Turns Into OTT Battlefront

The move by Walt Disney could be after a thorough analysis of the market in India, where Netflix and Amazon, with promising content, is facing competition from local OTT players. Disney+, which has already touched a milestone by grabbing more than 10 Mn subscribers, seems to take it slow in the most emerging Indian market. Apparently, one of the ideas is also to raise the monthly subscription fee of Hotstar in India, where the service currently costs $14 a year, said a media report.

Disney+ would include content from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic and will debut with nine original shows including classics such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Miracle on 34th Street, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Recess and the X-Men animated series will also be available in the US, some of which are already listed in Hotstar.

India, the battlefront for OTT platforms currently has more than 30 global and local players, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, ZEE5, ALTBalaji and Voot. There has been an increased focus on vernacular content across OTT platforms in India. YouTube recently said that with more than 1,200 video creators in the country crossing the million-subscriber base, it is experiencing a “staggering growth” in vernacular content consumption.

A majority of consumption across OTT platforms in India is in Indian languages. Also, according to RedSeer report, watching short format videos account for up to 40 percent of the time spent on various platforms. With such unique demands, the Indian market could emerge as the most challenging bet for many global players. This is probably also the reason that it may take a while before the Indian audience gets to watch Disney+.―Inc42

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