Update, March 20, 2020 (7:40AM ET): Disney Plus had been originally slated to launch in India on March 29 via Hotstar. However, would-be subscribers got an early tease when the company briefly rolled out a test version of the service on March 11. This test rollout was later reversed (see original article below) and we now hear that the final Disney Plus launch in India has been delayed.
“We recently announced that Disney Plus would launch in India through the Hotstar service in conjunction with the beginning of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket season,” said Uday Shankar, President of The Walt Disney Company APAC and Chairman of Star and Disney India, told TechCrunch in a statement.
“Given the delay of the season, we have made the decision to briefly pause the roll-out of Disney Plus and will announce a new revised premiere date for the service soon,” he added.
We’ll update this article as soon as we hear more about Disney’s streaming plans in India.
Original article, November 14, 2019 (5:29 PM ET): Disney Plus has seen a pretty huge response in its first two days of launch. The platform already has 10 million subscribers and counting, and it’s only available in the US, Canada, and the Netherlands. Well, there’s some good news for our Indian readers, as we now have a tentative timeline for the launch of Disney’s streaming service in the country.
TechCrunch reports that Disney plans to bring Disney Plus to India and some South Asian countries by second half of 2020. Citing sources familiar with the matter, the publication says that Disney Plus content will be a part of Hotstar in India.
Hotstar is the most popular streaming services in the country, with over 300 million monthly active users. The move to merge the Disney Plus catalog with Hotstar seems quite predictable since Disney owns Hotstar. It would be much easier and less time consuming for Disney to use Hotstar’s ready-made streaming infrastructure in India.
Disney Plus features a large collection of movies and TV shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and National Geographic. This will substantially add to Hotstar’s content offerings in India and heat up streaming wars in the country.
Hotstar has been riding high on the wave of exclusive cricket streaming deals in India. It also has most of HBO’s film and TV catalog, which is what makes it pretty popular.
However, Hotstar’s highest streaming resolution is set at 1080p. It’s unclear if the service will gain 4K HDR streaming when for Disney Plus content like the Disney Plus app. If it does, it will truly challenge the likes of Netflix which offers support for Dolby Vision and 4K streaming.
With all this new content and a possible bump in resolution, Hotstar’s subscription pricing could also see a change. TechCrunch reports that Disney plans to raise Hotstar’s monthly subscription fee before the Disney Plus India launch.
Hotstar is currently priced at Rs 299 (~$4)/month or Rs 999 (~$14)/year. Sources tell the publication that the price hike could happen by the end of the first quarter next year and that prices could double to $30/year (Rs 2,160).
On March 11, the Disney Plus service started rolling out in India through the Hotstar app. Apparently, this was a test rollout and was only visible to a few subscribers. The Hotstar app was updated to version 8.06 and was rebranded to Disney Plus Hotstar. However, another version 8.08 was rolled out soon after, removing all the Disney Plus content from the Hotstar app.
Fortunately, we saw the test run of the streaming service and the new name wasn’t the only change we spotted. We also saw plenty of content from Marvel, Pixar, and Disney’s animated catalog. And yes, The Mandalorian was also made available on the app.We managed to grab some screenshots of the app and you can see them below.
After its India launch, Disney Plus reportedly plans to expand Hotstar with all the new content to Indonesia and Malaysia.
Are you excited for Disney Plus coming to India? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.