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Business News/ Industry / Media/  Disney+ Hotstar goes free for mobile users for upcoming cricket tournaments
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Disney+ Hotstar goes free for mobile users for upcoming cricket tournaments

Disney Star said the move to lift the paywall for mobile-only viewers for the two tournaments is aimed at democratizing the game of cricket and making it accessible to as many mobile users in India as possible for the duration of the season.

As of May, Disney+Hotstar had the largest paid subscriber base in the country at 52.9 million.Premium
As of May, Disney+Hotstar had the largest paid subscriber base in the country at 52.9 million.

New Delhi: Disney+ Hotstar has decided to offer upcoming cricket tournaments — the Asia Cup and the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup — free to its mobile users in India, a move followed by rival Viacom18 through its strategy of going free with the Indian Premier League (IPL) on its digital platform JioCinema.

Experts in the media and entertainment industry feel that removing a paywall from premium sports may have a negative long-term impact as the consumer would get used to viewing premium content for free.

“By following JioCinema in putting premium sports out for free, Disney is getting into a trap of who can withstand more losses. In that game, you cant beat Reliance. But in the process, they are going to kill the subscription market for the sports business, which will impact the rights value in the next cycle," said a senior broadcast executive.

In a statement, Disney Star, the local unit of the Walt Disney Co which owns Disney+ Hotstar, said the move to lift the paywall for mobile-only viewers for the two tournaments is aimed at further democratizing the game of cricket and making it accessible to as many mobile users in India as possible for the duration of the season.

“Disney+ Hotstar has remained at the forefront of the rapidly evolving OTT industry in India and the various innovations we have introduced to continue enhancing the viewer experience has allowed us to delight our audiences across the region. Making the Asia Cup and ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup available to a wider audience, we believe, will help us grow the overall eco-system," Sajith Sivanandan, head of Disney+ Hotstar said in a statement.

Sources in the company have confirmed that the OTT platform is only putting the two sporting events free, and other premium content, including Disney’s English language content from Marvel, Pixar, and LucasFilms as well as Disney Animation, besides Indian originals will continue to remain behind paywall.

Also, for connected TV users, the tournaments will continue to remain behind paywall.

As per a FICCI EY report, India has 540 million mobile internet users.

As of May, Disney+Hotstar had the largest paid subscriber base in the country at 52.9 million. However, the loss of IPL and non-renewal of HBO Originals is likely to impact the subscriber base significantly, which has already seen a drop of 8.4 million in the last six months.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lata Jha
Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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Updated: 09 Jun 2023, 01:07 PM IST
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