Walt Disney Co’s streaming service, Disney+ Hotstar, has been hit by a decline in subscribers in India. The country’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, has intensified the fight against global streaming platforms with his subsidiary JioCinema. The decline in the number of subscribers in India accounted for most of the fall in Disney’s subscribers in the quarter ending March 31. A massive 8% of Disney’s India arm’s membership dropped off during the period, with an additional loss of 8.4 million subscribers over the last six months.
JioCinema Effects on Disney+ Hotstar:
The drop in subscribers coincided with two major absences from the platform. Firstly, Disney+ Hotstar lost broadcasting rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL) to Viacom 18, a company owned by Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), Ambani’s conglomerate. JioCinema presently holds the streaming rights to the IPL, and during the tournament’s opening weekend in April, the platform amassed over 1.47 billion video views. Analysts had previously estimated that Disney+ Hotstar could lose up to 15-25 million subscribers to Viacom 18.
Disney+ Hotstar recently terminated its long-standing partnership with HBO resulting in the unavailability of several shows such as Game of Thrones, Succession, and others. On the other hand, RIL partnered with Warner Bros. Discovery to bring popular Hollywood shows to its streaming platform. This move by JioCinema has left Disney+ Hotstar with weakened content offerings.
Mukesh Ambani’s Effect:
Mukesh Ambani is playing a crucial role in the streaming war in India. He has other plans in the pipeline as he seeks to pit JioCinema against major international competitors like Sony and Netflix Inc. in the rapidly developing Indian market. In addition, Reliance Industries are set to announce significant investment soon, with plans to acquire controlling stakes in some media companies and establish new ventures.
The decline in Disney+ Hotstar subscribers in India portrays serious competition for the streaming giant. Mukesh Ambani’s JioCinema appears to be making strides to dominate the market with competitive pricing and superior content offerings. Disney+ Hotstar will need to rethink its strategy if it hopes to remain relevant in the Indian market.