It is a great time for OTT media platforms in India and Hotstar is leading the pack, miles ahead of its peer platforms. Disney-owned Hotstar was the first to jump on the massive opportunity that India had as a digital audience by creating an app that focuses on providing tonnes of content from different languages and genres. Last year in February, Hotstar just had 48 Million, active users, way below the leading media platform, Youtube, which had 178 Million users. In just over a year, Hotstar has crossed the mark of 300 Million monthly active users, eclipsing Youtube’s 265 Million users.
Uday Shankar, President of Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific, and Chairman of Star & Disney India credit his team’s decision to tap into the Indian market at a time when no other platform was ready to get into it. With the Indian digital market considered a dark data market, not many believed in its underlying potential. However, Hotstar managed to understand the impending shift in the market with the availability of 4G data and mobile phones at low costs and the increase in video consumption. India being an Android-friendly country, Hotstar built their app around Android to create a nimble app with massive amounts of quality content to consume.
Uday Shankar – Chairman and CEO of Star India
The biggest factor that made Hotstar such a big hit is that it operates on a freemium model. It allows users to watch huge amounts of content free of cost, thus garnering a massive active user base. This is what makes Hotstar stand out from its direct competitors like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, both of which provides paid content. Another factor that made Hotstar so popular in India is its live sports coverage, which formed an instant connect with the youth interested in watching sports content from around the world.
When Star India made a bid of $2.5 Billion for the TV and digital rights of Indian Premier League last year, it knew exactly what they were getting into. IPL alone has given Hotstar the maximum active users in a country with people mad about cricket. The 2018 IPL saw 700 Million viewers around the world with Hotstar being responsible for 22% of that number. Such is the influence of IPL on Hotstar that IPL 2019, on its own, is expected to cross the 300 Million mark soon.
With data prices dropping and video consumption of an average Indian about to reach 5 hours/day, the growth OTT media platforms are only going to see even bigger numbers and growth.