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Hotstar races past 300 mn MAUs; Uday Shankar tells Disney investors how Star did it

Uday Shankar said India is now ready for a subscription push

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MUMBAI: The Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific president and chairman Star and Disney India Uday Shankar made quite a splash at the company’s Investor Day last week in Burbank. Shankar, in his presentation to Disney’s investors, introduced Star’s streaming service Hotstar, delving into the strategy that powered the OTT platform to its numero uno status.

While the senior executive also highlighted Star Network’s power and reach in India, the key focus of his presentation at the first Investor Day conference post Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox was the company’s crown jewel – Hotstar.

Shankar stated that Hotstar had recently broken the 300 million monthly active user (MAU) mark, an extremely significant revelation.

“Hotstar has just broken the mark of 300 million monthly active users. That makes it one of the largest video platforms in the world,” he said emphatically.

Shankar then touched upon the strategy and vision of the company that helped Hotstar to get to where it is today.

“First and foremost, we were ahead of the curve. When everybody was dismissing India as a data dark market, we anticipated the impending shifts and built Hotstar. We also kept mobile and Android in particular at the centre of our strategy, and created an app that was high quality, feature rich and also light and nimble,” Shankar stated.

He pointed out that Star’s linear TV programming was made available on Hotstar almost simultaneously.

Today, Hotstar accounts for 40 per cent of all long-form digital video consumed in India. The video streaming app is home to over 100,000 hours of drama, movies, sports and news content.

“Given the large Indian population, we built Hotstar for scale and focused on creating a scaled advertising platform too rather than focusing only on the nascent subscription market,” he explained.

Powered by the success of Hotstar, Star today captures nearly 30 per cent of all digital video advertising. The company has focussed a great deal on viewer engagement. It now aims to push for even deeper engagement.

“Hotstar is arguably more advanced in engagement initiatives than any other service in India. These include gamification of content, a social experience around video and even allowing in-app transactions now. As a result, an active viewer spends 2.7 times more time on video than a passive viewer,” Shankar said.

He now believes that the Indian market is ready for a subscription push. The company is on the path to use Hotstar’s massive scale as an AVOD platform to establish compelling SVOD service for its top-end consumers.

“This is driven by premium content and an easy transaction experience. It is satisfying to see what we have created so far. However, we realise the potential of this amazing market is infinitely more. Using our deep technology bench, our intellectual property and our understanding of the Indian consumer, we have created one of the most exciting video platforms in the world that will redefine the future of delivery and consumption,” Shankar concluded.
 

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