Disney+ Hotstar, India’s streaming giant, has faced a troubling decrease in subscribers, shedding 12.5 million in the April-June quarter. The fall comes after losing the exclusive rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL), a central element in its business model. With 40.4 million subscribers, down from 52.9 million just a quarter earlier, questions arise about the platform’s sustainability.
In its prime, the platform boasted 61.3 million subscribers across Asia, dwarfing rivals Amazon Prime (20 million) and Netflix (6-7 million). The IPL was a driving force behind this success.
Kevin Lansberry, Disney’s Interim CFO, commented on this loss, emphasizing a shift to a more diversified sports and entertainment strategy. However, with Disney+ Hotstar’s ARPU being a mere $0.59, compared to the Core Disney+ ARPU of $6.58, the concern mounts.
The decline started in September 2022. Since losing the IPL rights to Reliance-backed Viacom18 for the 2023-27 cycle, the platform has shrunk by over 20 million subscribers in nine months. The removal of HBO content, including smash hits like Game of Thrones, added to the woes.
Despite predictions of stabilization, the decline has persisted, sparking talks of Disney possibly selling off its India business. The acquisition of Star India in 2018, later renamed Disney Star, seemed promising at the time but has not fared as expected.
Meanwhile, JioCinema, after bagging IPL streaming rights for Rs 23,758 crore, peaked at 32 million concurrent viewers. Post-IPL retention numbers remain unclear, but with over 100 new exclusive movies and shows, competition in India’s OTT space is heating up.
This sequence of events sheds light on the volatility of the streaming landscape and how a single loss can shift the balance in a competitive market. Disney+ Hotstar’s future in India is uncertain, but what is clear is the ever-intensifying race for content in the OTT space.
Source: Business Today