Mobile Internet

Hotstar cannot rely on cricket to be in the race of OTT platforms

Hotstar logo from the app

Hotstar is India’s largest OTT platforms with the highest number of downloads. The idea of Hotstar is a fascinating one because the website and the application have the backing of one of the biggest TV networks in the world. The app was launched in February in order to catch the 2015 cricket world cup, which took place in Australia. The website of the same was launched in January when it was still under construction. The response to the same was underwhelming. However, the moment the company launched the app, it went viral. In the first six days, the application had 1 million downloads. The number just doubled to 2 million in ten days of its launch.

This had a lot to do with the streaming of the cricket world cup with some great shows and movies the application had. The application had over 340 million views during the 2015 world cup from all over the world. That being said, the company now has over 350 million downloads and there are over 150 million monthly active users. This alone has to be a feat in itself. The company also grabbed an Indian Premier League (IPL) viewership contract in 2017 that lasts till 2022.

Cricket is something which is very dear to the Indians and the fact that Hotstar has its app across all formats helps people living abroad catch the Indian team play. The IPL contract also helps them garner views from all over the world as it is one of the biggest sporting events in the world.

However, the race for the OTT platforms has suddenly become fierce. Even though Hotstar has more downloads, Amazon Prime won the viewership count in the month of February this year. Cricket alone might not be enough for Hotstar to survive in this gritty competition. There are a host of players in this line of business and Netflix, Amazon Prime, Voot, Zee5 are some of the notable ones that need to be watched out by the Indian company.

That said, recently there was news about Hotstar investing around INR 200 Cr for creating originals known as Hotstar Specials. There were adverts running all over the videos on Hotstar talking about Hotstar Specials. This INR 200 Cr investment has got a top up from its parent companies. Although Nova Digital Entertainment owns Hotstar, Nova is owned by Star India. And Star India with Star US Holdings has pledged $153 million which is around INR 1,066 Cr in Nova Digital Entertainment.

This investment comes at a crucial time as Netflix and Amazon Prime are emerging as bitter rivals in this space. Netflix has its own set of originals and Prime also has made some amazing shows up late, Hotstar is the only OTT platform yet to come out with its original. That said, this huge investment is going to be extremely important as the money, now, can be used to hire great artists which will, in turn, garner the audience they are looking for.

-Unmesh Phule

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