Ready, set, go

Transforming how India is entertained with Disney+ Hotstar

Over the past decade, Internet pioneers have disrupted nearly every industry: media, transport, publishing, travel and the list goes on. In each case, the Internet is a tool of empowerment, putting the power of decision-making back in the hands of each consumer.

We were guided by this insight when we were creating a vision for Disney+ Hotstar (erstwhile Hotstar). India was changing by the minute, and we knew viewers wanted more control of their entertainment. The freedom to watch the best cinema, sports and entertainment programming, when and how they wanted it.

No one wants to be part of the crowd

We launched Hotstar in February 2015 with a simple message: ‘Go Solo’. We were talking to young Indians, who prize individuality and non-conformity. Those who weren’t satisfied with the traditional viewing in India, sitting around a living room TV set, watching a channel that someone else had chosen.

Launch of Hotstar with #GoSolo

Content on the go

No one understands how the Internet broadens possibilities better than this generation. They also know how to use it to enjoy the music, cinema and programming they want. From both technological and content standpoints, we ensured Hotstar provided an unparalleled experience. This was the only way to keep viewers engaged, because the best is all they will settle for.

Hotstar was built for this generation’s needs. Here, now, free of charge, the best of Indian television, where and when they want. The campaign struck a chord, and young, urban millennials responded by downloading the app in millions.

Harnessing technology to reach India

From the outset, our goal was simple. Build a product that allows as many Indians to access it as possible. We studied the conditions and challenges of connectivity, carefully designing a platform that overcomes them.

Cricket on Hotstar

To combat high data costs, we introduced a feature to allow our content to be downloaded to a mobile device for offline watching. The majority of our vast library – 100,000 hours of quality programming in eight languages – is available for free. There is also a premium subscription at Rs 199 a month. We were delighted that our efforts were recognised – Hotstar was voted Apple TV’s app of 2016.

Our young users love that we categorise our content by theme, making it easier to pick and choose on the go. They can also create a private channel, like a playlist, to personalise their viewing experience even further.

Features such as the ability to start a show or movie where you left off, even across devices, is the kind of design intelligence that generation takes for granted — we had to be sure we weren’t missing anything. We created a conversation with our viewers, finding out what they need and consequently adding options like Chromecast capability.

An incredible journey

Hotstar went live just in time for the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015. The response was instant and dramatic: a million downloads in six days, faster than any other entertainment app in the world.

ICCI Cricket World Cup

The IPL followed, and the great numbers logging into the online streams cemented Disney+ Hotstar as the premier destination online to get a sports fix. 50% of IPL watch-time is on Hotstar, and more people use it to watch the 'Premier League' than regular television. We also have the best of domestic and global programming. The astonishing popularity of shows like 'Game of Thrones', 'Westworld' and, of course,'Koffee with Karan' have brought large number of viewers to the platform.

Game of Thrones
Koffee with Karan

It was Hotstar’s groundbreaking coverage of the Rio Olympics that really demonstrated its vast potential. Disney+ Hotstar provided round-the-clock coverage of the Games with 14 live streams, so anyone could choose between running and wrestling, swimming and boxing. 10 million viewers watched at least an hour of the Olympics on Disney+ Hotstar, with PV Sindhu’s thrilling silver medal in the badminton final getting 5 million viewers alone. These were record numbers in the Indian online world. The response to the Olympics encouraged us to push even further. Every match of the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup was streamed in 3D Virtual Reality, giving users a 360° view of the action, an unprecedented innovation in Indian sports.

P. V. Sindhu celebrates winning the Olympics women's singles Silver Medal badminton

Sakshi Malik

Launch of Disney+ Hotstar

In 2020, with the launch of Disney+ Hotstar, we have the widest range of content in India. Disney+ Hotstar offers more than 100,000 hours of TV shows and movies in 8 languages, regional and national news, and coverage of every major global sporting event. Disney+ Hotstar Premium has a large selection of Disney+ Originals, latest American shows, blockbuster Hollywood movies and award-winning content from International studios; whereas with Disney+ Hotstar VIP, users get access to Disney content in local languages, exclusive new content from the Hotstar Specials label.

We’re proud that Disney+ Hotstar has made such a significant contribution to our country’s digital revolution, but by no means is our work done. From day one we sought to give viewers something they hadn’t seen or experienced before. Things are happening so fast – television as we have known it is changing drastically. The ‘tectonic shift in the industry’ that Uday has spoken about is well underway. As Disney+ Hotstar ramps up to compete globally, we will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible, to challenge convention, and provide our demanding viewers with the best content and the best experience.

Imagine more
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