Hotstar VIP aimed at driving IPL viewership, say experts

The Rs 365-a-year subscription plan has an interesting price point and is expected to make things bigger and better for the OTT platform, say media analysts

Hotstar VIP

Hotstar’s new subscription plan, Hotstar VIP, is an attractive offer at an interesting price point, say industry experts. 

The plan for Rs 365 a year gives the audience the opportunity to watch new and exclusive content like those under the Hotstar Specials label, Star network serials (before television at 6am), and live sporting action, including VIVO IPL and ICC Cricket World Cup. 

Those who have already subscribed to the Rs 299 Annual Sports Plan will also get upgraded to Hotstar VIP. With the 12th season of IPL underway, this deal is expected to earn Hotstar a lot of brownie points. 

Media experts told exchange4media that Hotstar VIP could make things bigger and better for the OTT platform. Keeping in mind the T20 cricket league, the subscription plan is an attractive deal, they said.

Anand Chakravarthy, Managing Director, India, Essence, said the price point was aimed at increasing IPL consumption. “At Re 1 per day, it's a very attractive price point obviously aimed at driving consumption of IPL and other content.” 
Anita Nayyar, CEO – India & South East Asia, Havas Media Group, had a similar opinion. “It is an interesting price point, not too high at least for the discerning audiences who want to view local content before it hits TV. The inclusion of live sports (given there is a lot on Star) and Hotstar Specials at the same price point makes the same attractive.”

The promise of streaming new episodes of Star’s favourite TV shows before their telecast on TV seems like an offer to entice even those audiences who aren’t too interested in sports. It is a good deal for both kinds of audiences, said Nayyar. “I think it is a combination of both: for those who are loyalists of Star’s local content it’s one-up viewing over the others, and they also have the chance to view Originals and live matches. Audiences should come from both,” Nayyar added.

In a different take on the subscription offer, Chakravarthy said driving TV viewership was not the objective here. “It's the cheapest subscription plan that there is. Given the timing, I believe it's certainly aimed at growing IPL viewership as well. With the World Cup following IPL, driving viewership for cricket on Hotstar would be the primary objective. Possibly, the GOT final season airing this year will also be another opportunity to drive in more subs for Hotstar with this pricing,” Chakravarthy pointed out.

The reduced pricing certainly drives an increase in viewership and is a good sign for advertisers who are looking at digital investments during IPL, Chakravarthy said. 

Nayyar, too, said that IPL has been hot-selling property for Star network and for advertisers as well.
The Pay-By-Cash option has also come as a striking option. Hotstar has facilitated doorstep collection of payment within 48 to 72 hours of opting for the subscription. 

Media analysts agreed it was an interesting mode of payment but they had their reservations too. Chakravarthy said: “I would imagine that operationally it is challenging, but Star will have a plan in place. Is it relevant? Certainly. Even in e-commerce, Cash On Delivery is still a fairly dominant mode of payment. Digital payments are growing fast but given the size of our population and the large base of the ‘new to mobile internet’ population, there will be consumers who are more comfortable paying with cash than paying online. India is a market in transition where the analogue and digital worlds will co-exist for some time.” 

The doorstep payment collection is surely a convenient option, said Nayyar. “It will depend on the number of subscriptions coming in and their management but is a convenient option for sure,” she added. 

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