Disney+ to launch in India for start of IPL season
Disney+, the US entertainment giant’s streaming service, will officially launch in India next month, the company’s chief executive Bob Iger has announced.
The platform will be made available to subscribers in India through Hotstar, the digital streaming platform of Star India, one of the country's foremost broadcasting networks, and will be rebranded as Disney+Hotstar in the region.
The expanded version of the service will be available in the country from 29 March to coincide with the start of this season’s Indian Premier League, the high-profile Twenty20 cricket competition, which Hotstar has official streaming rights to.
Hotstar will continue to offer coverage of the IPL until 2022 under Star's five-year, $2.5-billion rights deal.
Iger made the announcement on a quarterly financial conference call and said: “We see a great opportunity to use a proven platform of Hotstar to launch a new Disney+ service in one of the most popular countries and the fastest growing economy in the world.”
The Disney chief shared that the service now has 26.5 million paying subscribers worldwide.
As well as India, Disney+ will also be launched in several European markets including the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Austria, and Switzerland next month.
The streaming platform was rolled out in USA, Canada and the Netherlands last year and is expected to expand into more European territories by the end of 2020.
Hotstar’s sports content also includes cricket rights to ICC competitions and India and New Zealand matches, as well as soccer’s Indian Super League, the Pro Kabaddi League and Premier Badminton League.
Iger also revealed that ESPN+, Disney’s over-the-top sports streaming service, has grown its subscriber base to 7.6 million.
This represents a significant rise from the 3.5 million subscribers the platform had in November, when Disney last shared its figures.
The increase is believed to be a result of Disney offering a bundle of three streaming services, including Disney+ and Hulu, for $12.99-per-month in an effort to rival Netflix.
ESPN+, which launched in 2018, broadcasts a range of top soccer from Italy’s Serie A, England’s FA Cup and second-tier Championship, plus Uefa Nations League matches and out-of-market games from North America's Major League Soccer, and recently secured German Bundesliga rights from 2020-21 and Spain’s Copa del Rey from this season.Sportcal