Disney has announced that its Disney+ streaming service will finally launch in India on March 29. The service which debuted in the United States last November had been highly anticipated as it is home to Disney’s entire repository of original content including feature Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) originals and Star Wars spin-off The Mandalorian. Since Disney acquired 20th century Fox, it also owns HotStar in India which is the leading streaming service in India, there was an assumption that Disney+ wouldn’t come to India but it would be HotStar that would integrate Disney’s content apart from the stuff it already has including HBO Originals and Live Sports especially cricket which is huge in India.
- HotStar and Disney+ would be combined as a service and the rebranded service will be called Disney+HotStar. This will presumably include originals like The Mandalorian which never launched on HotStar. Of course, this doesn’t mean every Disney movie will show up immediately as there are some licensing deals still at play and there will be certain IPs Disney would want to reserve for the big screen. n
- We can expect a completely revamped user interface which will likely be inspired by Disney+. Hotstar’s interface has been its anathema and it would certainly be nice if Disney could add some class to it. There could be also a completely new user interface as Disney+ is just meant for shows and movies while HotStar handles everything from live sports, to shows, to live TV.
- One of the reasons HotStar is such an asset for Disney is because of its reach in India and its back-end technology which has a proven track record of handling massive traffic, especially for sports events. Disney+ is based on the cutting edge BamTech technology it acquired for ESPN+ so you can imagine a fusion between the two tech platforms. Already, there has been a reshuffle in the HotStar leadership which is now fused with the centralised Disney+ team.
- The Disney+ launch will not include Hulu initially which is also owned by the Walt Disney company. For Hulu, Disney CEO and Chairman, Bob Iger has outlined a 2021 timeline for its international expansion for European countries which could mean that Indian audiences may need to wait a while even beyond that.
- Disney+ will launch with two subscription plans — one will include the entire library including original programming while the other one will be more basic in nature without any original programming. It sounds quite similar to the way HotStar operates right now with a free tier, a VIP tier and a Premium tier which includes everything.