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Why Hotstar is the biggest threat to Netflix post Disney+ integration

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Get this — Hotstar only operates in India, its streaming technology is seemingly inferior to Netflix, Prime Video and YouTube — yet it represents the biggest threat to a foreign video platform, Netflix being the most vulnerable one of the lot. That’s because it is the biggest streaming platform in India and for streaming platforms entering India, the market remains the lowest hanging fruit but its price sensitive nature makes things complicated a lot of players. But let’s take a deep dive into why Hotstar now becomes even more formidable for particularly for Netflix to compete against.

  • Netflix has slim pickings when it comes down to local content. Things are even more grim when one talks about Netflix originals designed keeping India in mind. And before anyone says Sacred Games, that’s just one show. Hotstar has the entire Star TV library and much more content that’s localised.
  • Netflix has zero sporting content — Hotstar is the home of the IPL, Formula 1, English Premier League and then some more. Indians are crazy about sports, particularly cricket — Netflix only has some cricket related originals at max. Now, live sports — Hotstar does a pretty impressive job — chances are that the Disney integration will include even ESPN+ programming when applicable which means even more international content for the Indian user at no extra cost.
  • Netflix always appealed to the cosmopolitan and intellectually enriched viewer. The fact that the Disney has removed all Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm content means Netflix isn’t as compelling a platform considering the iconic nature of the IPs. Guess where these all IPs are coming? Hotstar, that too, for free.
  • In the first three weeks of the IPL, Hotstar has more than 250 million viewers — Netflix by comparison has just around a million with a mission of hitting 100 million users in India. That’s not going to happen with the current state of the programming or pricing with it costing almost 3x of what Hotstar costs in India — with more competition coming in the form of Apple TV+.
  • As Disney integrates more with Hotstar we could be looking at Hulu content also coming Hotstar’s way and even its streaming platform could get better as Disney could integrate some of its Bamtech IP.

Reducing the price is not just the solution that Netflix needs to drive home. It needs the right blend of content. Netflix for whatever reason has got it wrong. As the pre sales for Avengers Endgame has proved to take in record sales for a Hollywood movie — Indian’s love their Marvel IPs. Similarly, IPL numbers show that live streaming of cricket is something that’s captured the imagination of the average Indian streamer — and last but not the least is local content.

Netflix basically can’t get anything that’s owned by Disney. It doesn’t believe in live sports, and as far as localisation has gone, it has been slow in licensing content — it is more focussed on originals which will be be problematic if they want to hit its 100 million user mark in India.

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