The Walt Disney Company has announced that Disney+ will launch through Hotstar, the OTT service from Star India on 29 March. Disney India acquired Star India’s video streaming app Hotstar through Disney’s acquisition of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox last year.
Disney chairman and chief executive officer Bob Iger said during the company’s first-quarter result webcast on Tuesday, that the much-awaited streaming service, which launched in the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands on 12 November 2019, will be available in India through Hotstar in the country. Earlier it was scheduled that Disney+ would be available via Hotstar after the IPL (Indian Premier League) 2020. Hotstar’s VIP/Premium service, the subscription-based video-on-demand service from the platform, is likely to be rebranded as Disney+Hotstar.
In India, the historic acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Disney enabled the merger of the entertainment network under Star India, including the sports network Star Sports, and the OTT service Hotstar. Until now, Disney has had no significant presence in the digital streaming space in India, and having Hotstar in the network gives it a distinct edge as it enters the market as Hotstar holds a very strong position in the space.
Hotstar brings in content from Star India and the erstwhile 20th Century Fox library, as well as HBO’s originals. Apart from this, it houses sports properties from domestic tournaments like the IPL, Indian Super League (ISL), and Pro Kabaddi, to the international matches under the Board for Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), and the International Cricket Council (ICC) among others.
After its debut in U.S., Canada and the Netherlands in November 2019, Disney+ launched in Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico a week later. The streaming service will launch on 24 March in markets across Western Europe—including the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland. Additional Western Europe markets like Belgium, the Nordics and Portugal, will be able to access Disney+ in summer 2020.
Disney+’s library includes classic movies and shorts, popular series, recent theatrical releases and a growing slate of original content from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and National Geographic. Furthermore, a rich slate of new originals from Marvel Studios like The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and WandaVision will premiere on the service in August and December, respectively, besides the highly popular series The Mandalorian, from Lucasfilm, in October.