Star’s investment in Hotstar will be $50 mn in FY18: James Murdoch

MUMBAI: Star India’s investment in its video streaming service Hotstar will be $50 million in FY18, 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch has said. The company follows a financial calendar of July to June.

Murdoch also reiterated that the company’s India unit is well on its way to touch $500 million EBITDA in FY18.

“We’re very comfortable that we’ll hit our $500 million EBITDA target at Star TV. We had decided, however, from the strong quarter in the year to continue to increase our investment in Hotstar, which for the year will be about $50 million,” Murdoch said in an interaction with analysts.

He also said that Star is leveraging well its recent sports acquisition, the Indian Premier League (IPL). He also said the India cricket rights will also monetised well.

“As we proved with the IPL, leveraging standpoint sports is a strategy we’ve demonstrated time and time again that can drive strong returns to the business. We expect no less in recent investments in other sports rights, such as the NFL’s Thursday Night Football or the recently acquired extension of the BCCI rights in India,” Murdoch added.

Murdoch also said that the entertainment business in India is on an upswing. He mentioned the success of Star Bharat which has been gaining market share.

“In the Indian TV business, our entertainment channels achieved significant regional market share growth over the past year and two of the largest regions when launching the number one national free to air in the country, Star Bharat,” he stated.

He also noted that the sports business and the digital business are also growing at a fast pace. Hotstar, he said, exceeded 140 million users in April. The IPL watch time on Hotstar has 2.5 times compared to last year.

Murdoch also mentioned that Hotstar had 7 million concurrent live streams during a single IPL match this season, which is likely the highest ever for a sporting event on a streaming service in the world.

“Overall, Hotstar continues to thrive as the go-to digital video platform and is now seeing a billion minutes of daily watch time regularly,” he asserted.

21st Century Fox CFO John Nallen said that the international advertising revenues were about level with last year, as continued growth at Star Entertainment and the international channels were offset by the impact of substantially reduced cricket matches on Star Sports.

He also said that the reported international EBITDA increased 23%, led by a more than doubling of contributions at Star TV.

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