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Netflix viewing is 6% of Hotstar’s in India: 21st CF CFO Nallen

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NEW DELHI: Star India’s parent 21st Century Fox feels that Star’s OTT platform Hotstar future in the Indian market was great and that it has become the `second TV’ in Indian homes that highlights global competitors like Netflix and Amazon have failed to make a dent yet.

According to 21st Century Fox senior EVP and CFO John Nallen, the portable nature of the app (Hotstar on a smart phone) has made people use it as a “second TV”. Similarity of content on traditional TV on Star channels (“we produce 17,000 hours per year of local Indian product”) is what drives the market, ratings and minutes on Hotstar, he added.

Speaking to investors in March 2017, Nallen pointed out that there have been 135 million downloads -- “the biggest app download in Indian history”-- of Hotstar app and in terms of usage in January 2017, it had eight billion minutes of viewing, “ten times of what it had six months earlier”.

“When I look at the growth of our business, Hotstar is a key piece of it in India, and it also had the opportunity to appeal to the Indian diaspora where we sell our products currently in the US and the UK,” the 21st CF CFO highlighted.  At 21st Century Fox, Nallen oversees all of the company's financial dealings, specifically overseeing capital market and merger and acquisition transactions as well as various corporate-wide operating initiatives.

Asked if Amazon and Netflix impacted the OTT market in India as both were investing heavily, Nallen said, “Netflix, not really. It is six per cent of Hotstar viewing (in India). Amazon is investing significantly in local products, which is in Hindi and local languages.”

According to an official statement from Star earlier this month, Hotstar became the first local service to cross 100 million downloads on the Google Play Store, racing ahead of many other consumer Internet companies in India, including e-commerce services like Amazon India and Flipkart, taxi ride services like Ola, payment apps like Paytm and even news services like Times of India, NDTV and Dailyhunt.

The service also announced recently that it has emerged as the primary screen for cricket extravaganza VIVO IPL 2017 in India’s top cities, especially those with more than a million in population.

Speaking at the CASBAA OTT Summit in Singapore in March, Hotstar CEO Ajit Mohan, without elaborating on exact plans, had asserted the platform wanted to expand to other parts of the globe, adding the model could be “global with mobile viewing and tech at the heart of things."  He did not expand on the territories being targeted for expansion or the investments being made by the company.

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