Disney+ to launch in India by rebranding Hotstar VIP, Premium services: Robert Iger

MUMBAI: The Walt Disney Company will use the Indian Premier League (IPL) as the launchpad for its video streaming service Disney+. The service will debut in India on 29th March by rebranding the existing Hotstar VIP and Premium services to Disney+ Hotstar. Disney is the parent company of Star India, which owns Hotstar as well as the media rights to IPL.

“We’re also excited to announce that we will be launching Disney+ in India through our Hotstar service on March 29th at the beginning of the Indian Premier League cricket season. We will be rebranding our existing Hotstar VIP and Premium subscription tiers to Disney plus Hotstar,” Disney chairman and CEO Robert Iger said during an earnings conference call.

“We see this as a great opportunity to use the proven platform of Hotstar to launch the new Disney+ service in one of the most populous countries and fastest-growing economies in the world.”

Iger also stated that Disney+ service will come bundled with Hotstar. Disney will bring two primary products into India. One product will be basic comprising of library content while the other will be more premium in nature.

“India, we’re going to launch bundled with Hotstar, directly bundled meaning it is Disney plus Hotstar as a product, we’re not giving specifics about the price at this point, but expect that there’ll be two primary products brought into India,” he stated.

He continued, “One will be more premium in nature that will include the entire library of original programming and the other one will be more basic that will have the library and not the original programming priced for the market and launched at a very peak period of time for the IPL, the Cricket League.”

Iger said that Disney will take advantage of the presence of Star in the market and the millions of subscribers that they also have. “We take advantage of the sports tie-in and we use the interface and the technology that includes the billing that already exists to launch a service we believe under very, very optimal circumstances.”

Iger also revealed that Disney+ has amassed 28.6 million paid subscribers, as of 3rd February. The service launched less than three months ago on 12th November 2019. Additionally, he stated that the paid subscriber numbers for ESPN+ and Hulu, as of Monday, are 7.6 million and 30.7 million, respectively.

“We believe the subscriber growth to date and the overall reaction to Disney+ reflects a variety of factors that include the uniqueness of the service, an excellent user interface and the high quality of our brands and content,” said Iger. “Although our volume will increase, we remain focused on providing quality content from our core franchises and brands, not just quantity, as we continue to build our portfolio.”

Disney+ launched in the U.S., Canada, and the Netherlands on November 12, 2019, followed by its debut in Australia, New Zealand, and Puerto Rico a week later on 19th November.

The service will launch on 24th March in markets across Western Europe – including the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland, and today Iger announced that Disney+ will launch in India as well on 29th March through Hotstar. Additional Western Europe markets, including Belgium, the Nordics, and Portugal, will follow in summer 2020.

Disney+’s content library comprises of classic movies and shorts, popular series, recent theatrical releases and a growing slate of original content from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and National Geographic.

Today, Iger announced that the new original Marvel Studios series The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and WandaVision will premiere on Disney+ in August and December, respectively, and that the highly popular series The Mandalorian, from Lucasfilm, will return to the service in October.

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