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Disney+ launch on Hotstar during IPL 2020

Two products – a premium one with originals and another with library will be introduced.

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MUMBAI: Come the IPL in end March 2020, and Hotstar subscribers will be able to get access to the Disney+  app which has managed to attract 28.6 million subscribers in a short period since launch last year.

Speaking at an investor earnings conference call after announcing the first quarter results ending 28 December 2019, The Walt Disney Co chairman  & chief executive officer Robert A. Iger said that Disney + will be bundled with Hotstar and sold as a product on 29 March at the beginning of the IPL season.  He refused to reveal the price points it will be launched at, although he acknowledged it will be tailored to the market.

Said he: “We will be rebranding our existing Hotstar VIP and Premium subscription tiers to Disney Plus Hotstar. Assume that one will be more premium and will include the entire library plus original programming, and the other one will bemore basic that will only have the library and not the original programming. It will be launched at a peak period – that is the IPL cricket league. We will be taking advantage of the presence of Star in the market and the millions of subscribers that they have; we take advantage of the sports tie in. And we will be using the interface and technology that includes the billing that already exists (in Hotstar).  The launch of the service – we believe – (is) under very optimal circumstances.”

He also told analysts that Disney's next priority is to launch its streaming service in western Europe on 24 March with debuts expected in the UK, France, Germany, Spain Italy, Switzerland, and Austria. Markets like Belgium, the Nordics, and Portugal will follow in the summer. " In December we signed a deal with Canal Plus, the leading pay TV provider in France," he said. "We're currently in talks with several other potential distribution partners throughout the region."

Iger admitted interest in streaming across the world in international markets is not as high as in the US. “We have a marketing challenge to launch in those markets. Not that those markets have not been seeded with streaming. But we have to yet to launch there,” he said.

Iger has been accelerating the launch of Disney+ globally, following the rapid uptake of it in the US. Markets like Australia, New Zealand and Peurto Rico followed a week later.

Earlier expectations were that Disney+ would launch in India after the IPL, and it would launch in Europe much later.

It may be recalled that Disney APAC president Uday Shankar had, earlier this year, been mandated to steer Hotstar, leaving K. Madhavan in charge of the TV business. Now we know why: to meet the early launch date of Disney+ on Hotstar.

(updated at 10:19 am)

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