Disney+ to be launched in India on March 29: Iger

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Disney+ will arrive in India on March 29 with the start of the Indian Premier League. This is official. The announcement has been made formally by the Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger during the first quarter financial conference call.

Disney+, to be made available in India through Hotstar, will be rebranded Disney+Hotstar in the territory. “We expect two product point in India. One will be more premium in nature and will include the entire library and original programming and the other one will be basic which will have the library and not the original programming.”

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“We are excited to announce that we will be launching Disney+ in India through Hotstar on March 29 at the beginning of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket season. We will also be rebranding our existing Hotstar VIP/Premium service to Disney+Hotstar. We see a great opportunity to use a proven platform of Hotstar to launch new Disney+ service in one of the most popular countries and the fastest growing economy in the world,” Iger said.

He also revealed that Disney+ had amassed 26.5 million paying subscribers worldwide. Hotstar, at its peak, has reported over 100 million daily active users and 300 million monthly active users last year.

Before arrival in India, the service will also be launched in key European markets like the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland on March 29. The India launch is planned to coincide with the IPL 2020 start as the it remains one of the biggest traffic attraction on Star India’s OTT platform. Disney+ has been launched in the US, Canada and the Netherlands on November 12 last year while an expansion to the market like Belgium, the Nordics and Portugal is on the cards later this year.

Arrival of Disney+ will offer a whole lot of additional content to the Hotstar VIP / Premier subscribers. Disney+’s library includes classic movies and shorts, popular series, recent theatrical releases and a growing slate of original content from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and National Geographic. Hotstar at present offers content from the Star India and the erstwhile 20th Century Fox library as well as HBO’s originals.

The prime sports content on Hotstar includes, cricket from International Cricket Council, the Board of Control for Cricket in India, New Zealand Cricket and several other cricket boards, Indian Premier League, Indian Super League football, Pro Kabaddi League  and Premier Badminton League.

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The financial statement also revealed, Disney’s Direct to Consumer and International services in spite of a .0.9 billion growth to $ 4.0 billion has seen a big surge in losses – from $ 136 mn to $ 693 mn. Costs of the launch of Disney+, the consolidation of Hulu and a higher loss at ESPN+ are attributed to the rise in the losses.

“These increases were partially offset by a benefit from the inclusion of the TFCF businesses due to income at the international channels, including Star 4. The increase in operating loss at ESPN+ was primarily due to higher programming costs, primarily for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) rights, and an increase in marketing spend, partially offset by subscriber revenue growth and UFC pay-per-view fees. Commencing March 20, 2019, as a result of our acquisition of a controlling interest in Hulu, 100% of Hulu’s revenues and expenses are included in the Direct-to-Consumer & International segment. Prior to March 20, 2019, only the Company’s ownership share of Hulu results was included (as equity in the loss of investees),” state excerpts from the report quoted by exchange4media.

As per the financial report, the average monthly revenue per paid subscriber for ESPN+ has decreased from $4.67 to $4.44 due to a shift in the mix of subscribers to our bundled offering.

“In November 2019, the company began offering a bundled subscription package of Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu. The bundled offering has a lower average retail price per service compared to the average retail price of each service on a standalone basis. The average monthly revenue per paid subscriber for our Hulu SVOD Only service decreased from $14.49 to $13.15 driven by lower retail pricing and a shift in the mix of subscribers to our bundled offering. The average monthly revenue per paid subscriber for our Hulu Live TV + SVOD service increased from $52.31 to $59.47 due to higher retail pricing,” the report further reveals.

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