Disney+ is value addition to Hotstar’s HBO, Showtime, FX offerings: How the rebranding shakes up the Indian streaming market
The arrival of Disney+ does not mean you should not renew your Netflix and Amazon Prime Video subscriptions, but never relinquish your Hotstar subscription.
Disney+ is almost here — so you can officially find out what all the Baby Yoda fuss has been about. Two weeks before its debut in India, Disney launched a beta version of the revamped Disney + Hotstar app on Wednesday. However, it turned out to be just a partial rollout for a small set of consumers, ahead of the official full-fledged launch of the platform on 29 March, a Hotstar spokesperson confirmed.
Disney's entry into more streaming markets around the world weakens Netflix's hegemony, and establishes its status as the premier global entertainment behemoth.
Back in 2012, Netflix had entered into a marriage with Disney which gave the streaming service exclusive access to all of the Mouse House's content from 2016. Only at the time, Disney was not aware Netflix would disrupt the entertainment industry the way it has. It did not know the market for streaming services would mushroom into what it is today. The marriage was thus brief as Disney announced its own service in 2017 — and no prenup meant Disney was able to withdraw its whole catalogue from Netflix.
So what does the arrival of Disney+ mean for the existing streaming services in the Indian market? What content makes Disney+ a subscription worth buying/renewing? Should you be buying a subscription just for Baby Yoda and The Mandalorian? Has the addition of Disney+ to the existing catalogue of Hotstar made it an indispensable service?
With Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, National Geographic, and 20th Century Studios in its vault, Disney obviously boasts of an impressive in-house catalogue of content all ready to roll out. Don't devalue the currency of nostalgia as the classic Disney films, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Beauty and the Beast, still have a strong rewatch value among families. Netflix and Amazon Prime Video may have had a headstart in terms of both subscribers and original content but the fact that Disney+ was able to amass 28.6 million subscribers in the US within three months of launch proves its universal appeal.
A large part of its success could be attributed to the Star Wars spin-off series, The Mandalorian and its star, Baby Yoda. Do not devalue the currency of marketable and meme-able cuteness, especially when they come in four-lettered packages: Nemo, Olaf, Porg, and Yoda. Its first wave of originals also include High School Musical: The Musical: The Series and Diary of a Future President, and films like Lady and the Tramp, Noelle, Togo and Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made.
For fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (August 2020) and WandaVision (December 2020) will be the first set of several original live-action MCU series, with Loki, Hawkeye, Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, and She-Hulk also set to premiere in 2021 and beyond. But with its family-friendly franchise-heavy content, Disney might struggle to attract subscribers beyond its traditional PG-13 and under audience. This is a concern which Disney executive Kevin Mayer voiced after the launch of their streaming service. “It’s incumbent upon us to market it the right way to emphasise the fact that it’s not just for kids,” he said. “It’s all family-friendly but everyone can enjoy this product.”
This is where services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and even Apple TV+ benefit by offering a variety of options suited to everyone's sensibilities.
In fact, what makes the Disney + Hotstar subscription worth every rupee in India is the existing library offered by Hotstar, which includes a lot of HBO, Showtime, and FX content. So the Disney+ content is essentially a value-added service for now.
Among the 28 million+ subscribers of Disney+ in the US, it was reported one in four new sign-ups opted for Disney+/Hulu/ESPN+ bundle. Considering Hulu is also owned by Disney, it is likely shows like The Handmaid's Tale, The Terror, and Casual — which are currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video in India — may join Devs on Disney + Hotstar. The addition of Hulu's catalogue (and hopefully 20th Century’s in future) to the service could make it an even more indispensable offering.
So the arrival of Disney+ does not mean you should not renew your Netflix and Amazon Prime Video subscriptions. But it does mean you cannot ever relinquish your Hotstar subscription.
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