Disney+ Hotstar VIP looking at boosting subscribers through telecom deals

Special recharge pack with Reliance Jio may bring in 15-20 mn additional subscribers. Also, the platform may consider a complete paywall option for IPL

e4m by Dipali Banka
Published: Sep 3, 2020 8:37 AM  | 3 min read

With the aim of increasing its subscriber base, Disney+ Hotstar VIP is going all out and tying up with telecom companies, offering live IPL streaming as part of their recharge packages. Apart from the revenue share of the amount of recharge from these telecom companies, Disney+ Hotstar VIP is also contemplating a complete paywall option for IPL this year. However, no decision has been taken on that front so far and they may decide after evaluating the advertisement scenario for IPL and how the industry responds to it this time.

As per this particular deal, Reliance Jio has introduced two new plans under the Jio ‘Dhan Dhana Dhan' offer—prepaid plans priced at Rs 499 and Rs 777. Aimed at targeting IPL viewers, both plans come with one year of complimentary Disney+ Hotstar VIP subscription which will offer full streaming of all cricket matches set to be broadcast in the coming weeks. In 2019, all Jio subscribers who had the Hotstar app, could watch IPL matches live on Jio TV, for free. However, this particular deal hasn’t seen the light of the day this year yet. Instead, the company is tying up with telecom majors with live streaming of IPL and a revenue share in recharge packages.

“2019 had witnessed how this partnership between Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV for the IPL brought significant value to Hotstar with almost 74% increase in watch time compared to 2018 and more than 300 mn viewers. But it was when Jio TV offered a free IPL watch to its subscribers. Though Jio TV has made it paid now, this deal still would bring huge growth in the reach of Hotstar as Jio is the largest telecom operator and has projected to reach 500 million users by mid 2020,” says Vishal Agrahari, Media Head from BC Web Wise.

Talking about a similar deal of Hotstar with Airtel, Sathyamurthy Namakkal, Executive Director – DDB Mudra Group and President – OMD Mudramax, says, “Such deals are the order of the day, thanks to the euphoria that IPL will build and attract. There is also a similar deal with Airtel that was closed recently. Thanks to all these initiatives, coupled with content -hungry India, post Covid, IPL 2020 should surpass 300 mn reach this season.”

According to an industry analyst, these value added packages may bring in additional 15-20 million subscribers for Disney+ Hotstar VIP. “At present, Hotstar has 8 million subscribers and approximately 180 million Monthly Active Users (MAU). One can estimate that most of the non-paid users watch the first 5 minutes of the match, and out of these, approximately 60% users may subscribe to Hotstar for the IPL. Seeing Jio TV numbers growth during IPL, I see a repeat of 2019 performance in 2020 in terms of viewership and watch time,” says Agrahari.

If the complete paywall option is not considered, will these additions in numbers help in getting more advertisements to Disney+ Hotstar VIP? “It should bring in more advertisements to a certain extent as long as Hotstar is willing to commit reach numbers for advertisers. Currently, Hotstar has 9 million subscribers. With marketing, they may add 15-20 milliion more subscribers taking the total to 25-30 million. The first five minute free users may be maximum 50 million, which means they will have a total reach of 80-100 million,” said an industry expert.

With almost a fortnight to go for the IPL 202 on the announced date of September 19th, the industry and stakeholders themselves are still trying to figure out the best way to monetise the event and justify this platform.

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