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IPL 2020: Can Disney+ Hotstar's bold subscription bet offset any advertising revenue dip?

In its bid to boost subscription numbers for its streaming platform Disney+ Hotstar, Star India is looking to take the bull by its horns. Betting on the massive popularity of the Indian Premier League (IPL), it has made annual subscription plans mandatory for those looking forward to catch the live action on their handsets or laptops.
The move is in line with Walt Disney Company Asia-Pacific chief Uday Shankar’s belief that consumers should pay for the content they watch.
It, however, may result in a dip in advertising revenues for the streaming platform as any content put behind a paywall may witnesses a minor blip in viewership initially.
Moneycontrol had reached out to Hotstar to gauge its expectations on the revenue front from this year’s IPL but there was no response till the time of filing this story.
Sandeep Goyal, Chairman, Mogae Media, feels Hotstar won’t be the primary screen for a lot of viewers due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it may turn out to be a dampener for the streaming platform.
« As large number of people will be at home, Hotstar will be a supplementary screen. Thus, it may not greatly benefit from this move in this COVID period as many people will prefer to watch it on their TV screens. As people are unlikely to venture out in the next few month for professional commitments, TV will remain the primary screen. They will see some gains but not something exceptional, » he told Moneycontrol.
He said that the tepid demand scenario will be a major deterrent for those brands, which would have allocated some amount for spending on the streaming platform during IPL.
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Media expert Anita Nayyar, however, feels that since people have been starved of live cricket comprising top Indian cricketers for a long time, Hotstar will be able to make the most out of it.
« People are looking forward to watching the IPL this year. Cricket is like a religion and Hotstar already has a loyal base of subscribers. Hotstar has always been complementary to the TV service and advertisers know that they will be catering to a different kind of audience. OTT subscriptions are going up and since there is greater affinity towards OTT platforms, this move on Star’s part is understandable, » she told Moneycontrol.
To ensure seamless boarding of subscribers, the streaming platform has tied up with Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel. Both Jio and Airtel will offer prepaid recharge plans bundled with a 12-month subscription to Disney+ Hotstar VIP.
The streaming platform has also added new features to the interactive Watch’N Play social feed while for the first time, fans will be able to join in the action by expressing themselves using ‘Hotshots’ selfies or a new video feature ‘Duets’, that lets fans create customised videos showcasing their rendition of famous shots and reactions of their favourite players.
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