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Indians await eagerly as Disney+ launches in foreign markets

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Mumbai: Walt Disney’s OTT service Disney+ launched in the US, Canada and Netherlands today, even as there is no clarity on when its unmatchable content library, offering 500 films and 7,500 episodes of television, will be made available to Indian viewers through its Hotstar platform.

In April it was reported that while Disney+ will not be launched in India, viewers will still be able to stream its content directly via Hotstar at no extra cost. This could be a smart move since Hotstar, which is a subsidiary of Star India, is now owned by Disney and having a subscriber base of over 300 million, it’s currently the most popular OTT platform in India.

Hotstar, reportedly, has elaborate plans to localise Disney+ content, by dubbing shows and movies and adding subtitles in multiple Indian languages including Hindi, Telugu and Tamil. Hotstar already offers its original shows in seven Indian languages.

While November also saw the launch of much-awaited Apple TV+ at as low as Rs 99 per month in India, Disney+, a late-entrant to OTT platform, is set to stand out in the crowded Indian OTT market, owing to its unmatchable content library.

Disney+ unmatchable content library

The streaming service will offer over 500 movies, including three of the four highest grossing films of all time - Avengers: Endgame, Avatar and Star Wars: The Force Awakens – as well as films from Marvel Studios including Captain America: Civil War, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Captain Marvel, Iron Man, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Iron Man 2, Thor, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: The First Avenger and Ant-Man.

Rounding off the movie line-up are Marvel television series from the 1970s to present day, including X-Men, Spider-Man and Marvel’s Runaways.

In addition, Disney+ will offer content from National Geographic including the critically acclaimed and award- winning documentary Free Solo and the streaming debut of Science Fair.

Also in the library are all six of the original classic Star Wars films released between 1977 and 1999, in addition to recent blockbusters Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. By the end of 2020, the entire Skywalker saga will be available on the service. Besides, it has 30 seasons of The Simpsons, 18 Pixar movies – including Wall-E, Up, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Toy Story, Inside Out and Brave – plus thousands of episodes of Disney Channel and Disney Junior series. These include The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Kim Possible, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, PJ Masks and Jake & the Never Land Pirates.

Disney+ India strategy

In April it was reported that Hotstar is going to offer Disney+ content at no extra cost. Its existing plans are—Hotstar Premium at Rs 299 per month and Rs 999 per year and Hotstar VIP at Rs. 365 per year.

Given Disney’s unmatched content library and the fact that this content will be streaming on Hotstar at no extra cost, Indian consumers, especially in the metro cities, are eagerly awaiting its launch. Marvel Studio films have a huge fan base in Indian metro cities and although Disney+ has not announced any Indian original shows, this is not going to pinch subscribers as they already have access to Hotstar original Indian shows in as many as seven Indian languages.

Industry experts are unanimous that the strategy behind bundling of Disney+ content at Hotstar will, no doubt, help the OTT platform that already has exclusive digital telecasting rights for big sporting events like IPL, ISL, and pro-Kabbadi league, and will help it emerge as the undisputed leader in the crowded OTT market in India.

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