Disney+ joins the Streaming Wars
Disney+ came live in India through Hotstar on the 3rd April.
Streaming services like Netflix and Hotstar have been the greatest beneficiaries of the CoronaVirus Outbreak. With several people staying at home there are certain businesses that are bound to do well. While people are working from home, they are saving between 1-4 hours of travel. All this time is spent on the TV / Computer / Phone / Tablet, most often consuming content. Steaming has become the most preferred way of consuming content. Further, the breadth of programming available for consumption is staggering.
On the 3rd February 2020 in the USA, Disney launched its streaming business called Disney+. It was Disney making a splash in the streaming wars. Disney has amassed more than 28 Million users in less than a month of launching in the US. 10 Million users on day One. Now it has its eyes firmly planted on the entire world. Disney has a formidable catalogue of content at its disposal. Close to 100 years worth of content that Disney themselves have produced, they also own Marvel, Star Wars (Lucasfilms), Pixar and National Geographic. They also own ESPN and 20th Century Fox.
Through the 20th Century Studios acquisition, they came to control the Star India group. Star has been perhaps the most important player on the Indian cable scene since the sector opened up in the 1990s. Star had launched Hotstar in February 2015 to tap the growing streaming demand in India and through the exclusive rights to stream cricket matches, they turned several Indians into chord cutters.
Hotstar reported over 300 Million active users on its service in 2019. They came out with some incredible insights last year, the link to which I have shared at the bottom of the page. Not just that, during the World Cup, their technology was really stress-tested with over 19 Million concurrent viewers watching a live event. Hotstar is an unbelievable asset that Disney got and it is going to wield it.
Disney+ comes to India
3rd April 2020, with India under lockdown and another 2 weeks of sitting at home in the horizon [at the very least], India is waking up to a new service. The breadth and quality of content put forth is unlike anything anyone has ever seen. Disney+ could not have found a better time to launch in India. Having studied the Hotstar report well, they have launched almost all of their content with multiple Indian language options. So you can watch Frozen in Hindi or Tamil or a host of other local languages. This insight is one which has evaded our own startups [even today, Flipkart is only available in English] but Disney is keenly aware of it. This will serve them well.
Disney+ is going to give every other streaming service a run for their money. They have a formidable catalogue of high-quality content that is guaranteed to keep many engaged. To add to that almost any household with kids will see immediate value in having the service. They now have three pricing tiers. Free, Premium and VIP which also gives them more leverage in terms of pricing. Most importantly, they have room to add a lot more in the future.
I do not know what they will do with ESPN. The cable subscriptions for ESPN have been cratering in the US. This dynamic is challenging and will need to be addressed soon. Will they decide to bundle it into Disney+? They also own ABC and a few other networks which also have room to bring some more live content onto the streaming platform. Through the India introduction, Disney will grow its subscriber base by 5X - 7X in one day!
In India, the field is littered with many players. Apart from Prime Video, Netflix and Hotstar which are the biggest there is AltBalaji, Zee5, ErosNow, and others joining the fray every day. I think many of the smaller ones do not have the firepower needed to go into this war and will end up getting acquired as this industry undergoes consolidation over the next 24 to 36 months.
We have some exciting times to look forward to - especially the couch potatoes!
Trivia - Disney+ launched in Feb — Hotstar Launched in Feb — Netflix started the online Video-on-demand service back in 2007 in Feb 2007 — There is something about February.