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NEW DELHI: Star India’s video streaming platform Disney + Hotstar plans to push entertainment content during the Indian Premier League (IPL) when the platform gains significant traction. It will run ‘Entertainment ka all rounder’ campaign throughout the cricket league to position Disney+Hotstar as a destination that provides live sports and multiple entertainment content options such as direct-to-digital movies, series or Star network TV shows.

“Our positioning has been pre-eminent among Indian consumers as a sports platform. IPL is an important occasion to bring users in during a cricket league and nudge them to move to other entertainment content on the platform. We are aiming to increase the entertainment consumption by 50% outside the IPL time," said Sidharth Shakdher, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Disney+ Hotstar.

During IPL, the streaming platform is looking to release a variety of entertainment shows like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, November Story dubbed in local languages as well as direct-to-digital movies like Big Bull.

“Traditionally, Marvel Superheroes shows have not been dubbed but our approach is to reach to regional markets through such shows. The end impact of such initiatives is when the IPL is over we continue to witness at least 20-30% higher engagement rates versus pre-IPL. There’s an overall goal with this marketing initiative beyond just cricket from this IPL," said Shakdher.

Despite putting the IPL behind a paywall, Disney+ Hotstar is ensuring that the IPL as well as its entertainment content is accessible to as many users as possible. The platform has inked deals with telecom players Reliance Jio, Airtel, and Vi (erstwhile Vodafone Idea) to come up with bundled postpaid and prepaid offers for users.

“Our association with Disney+ Hotstar gives customers access to all the cricketing action all through the year, along with entertainment that the platform offers through Hotstar Specials, Hotstar Multiplex, and all global movies and shows,“ said Avneesh Khosla, chief marketing officer, Vi.

To be sure, Disney + Hotstar competes with content heavyweights like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix in India which have been gaining ground in India’s online video market, set to touch $4.5 billion by 2025.

Disney+Hotstar had nearly 25 million paid users from India, Walt Disney said at its 2020 Investor Day in December 2020. Disney+, part of American media and entertainment conglomerate The Walt Disney Co., runs streaming platform Disney+ Hotstar in India.

Competitor, US streaming service provider Netflix is estimated to have closed 2020 with 4.6 million paid subscribers in India, according to a recent analysis by Media Partners Asia, an independent provider of research, advisory and consulting services across media, telecoms, sports and entertainment industries in Asia Pacific.

“Around 80% of content consumption in India on homegrown OTT platforms is still related to cricket or when a tent pole content property (Scam 1992) is launched. Therefore, the biggest challenge for these platforms is to create a perennial audience which is watching their entertainment content consistently," said Sandeep Goyal, chairman, Mogae Media, a Mumbai-based marketing and communication agency.

According to Goyal, Disney + Hotstar has made this effort late to promote their entertainment content offerings because they have been used to meeting their targets through cricket. It has now become a marketing imperative for them to promote non-cricket content.

“Since 2022 is their last IPL, if they don’t get the steaming rights then their major concern would be to retain users otherwise the appeal of the platform will fall flat. On top of that, they are also competing with the likes of global platforms like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix that have wider content library and deeper engagement rates," he added.

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