3 min read.Updated: 27 Jul 2021, 04:11 PM ISTLata Jha
Disney, whose financial year lasts from October to September, had said during an earnings call this May that ARPU (average revenue per user) for Disney+ Hotstar in the January-March quarter was down significantly from the October-December period when the IPL 2020 cricket matches were in progress
NEW DELHI: Video streaming service Disney+ Hotstar has announced a new price plans along with its latest slate of originals, across web shows and films, that it will launch over the next few months. Starting September, the service will be available on a mobile-only plan for Rs499 per year, for Rs899 per year across two devices and for Rs1,499 per year across four devices.
Hotstar was earlier priced at Rs399 per annum for its VIP service and Rs1,499 for Premium. The Walt Disney-owned VoD platform is the third foreign service to introduce a mobile-only plan for India after Netflix that had launched a mobile subscription priced at Rs199 per month in 2019, and Amazon Prime Video whose membership can be accessed by Airtel pre-paid customers starting at Rs89 a month.
Moreover, Disney+ content, including English-language originals and Hollywood movies such as those from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that were earlier only available in their dubbed form for VIP customers, can now be accessed in their original format by all paid subscribers of Hotstar.
“One insight we’ve got from the pandemic is that people aren’t just watching content on one screen so we need to diversify and be flexible on how we help customers access the service rather than adopt a one-dimensional approach," said Sunil Rayan, president and head, Disney+ Hotstar. The mobile plan is meant to give consumers the choice to access the service where they want to, he added. The company that is more than doubling down on its local originals will be exploring regional languages such as Tamil, Telugu and others a lot sooner.
To be sure, Disney, whose financial year lasts from October to September, had said during an earnings call this May that ARPU (average revenue per user) for Disney+ Hotstar in the January-March quarter was down significantly from the October-December period when the IPL 2020 cricket matches were in progress.
Disney+'s overall ARPU in the January-March quarter 2021 was at $3.99, and excluding Disney+ Hotstar it was $5.61. However, Rayan said the company isn't worried about lower ARPUs instead chooses to focus on what the local population can afford. “There is a huge fan base for Marvel movies in India and only when people have access to it, will we learn consumer preferences," Rayan said explaining the latest strategy of making Disney+ content available on all plans.
The company also listed its slate of new shows including Ajay Devgn’s OTT debut Rudra-The Edge of Darkness, historical drama The Empire starring Shabana Azmi and Kunal Kapoor, medical series Human starring Shefali Shah and Kirti Kulhari and the second season of family crime drama Aarya. The new launches also include several thrillers and mysteries such as Six Suspects starring Pratik Gandhi and Richa Chadha, tech-thriller Escaype Live starring Siddharth and Javed Jaffrey, supernatural thriller Fear 1.0 starring Tisca Chopra and crime drama Gharshana, among others.
Gaurav Banerjee, president and head, Hindi and English Entertainment, Star India, said the current slate has been built on some key principles - deep investment in volume and quality by acquiring exciting literature to adapt into shows and working with credible writing talent, committing anywhere between eight twelve months to develop a series and strengthening the focus on VFX to achieve the required scale for “Indian event TV."
Films bypassing theatrical release to premiere directly on Hotstar in the coming months will include Bhuj: The Pride of India starring Ajay Devgn, and horror comedy Bhoot Police starring Saif Ali Khan, Arjun Kapoor and Yami Gautam.
“We’ve had a good experience with our first set of direct-to-digital experiences last year and we’re set to continue the trend with one fresh release every month till the end of this year," Banerjee said adding that direct-to-OTT premieres are part of the Indian entertainment ecosystem now.
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