Disney+ Hotstar said on Twitter HBO content will be unavailable on the platform from March 31
Disney+Hotstar users will no longer be able to watch popular shows such as Game of Thrones, Euphoria, Chernobyl, The Last of Us
Disney+Hotstar lost 3.8 Mn subscribers in the October-December quarter of 2022, few months after losing IPL rights
After parent company Disney CEO Bob Iger announced restructuring and cost-cutting measures at the company, Disney+ Hotstar has announced to stop streaming HBO content following a non-renewal of the deal.
“Starting 31st March, HBO content will be unavailable on Disney+ Hotstar. You can continue enjoying Disney+ Hotstar’s vast library of content spanning over 100,000 hours of TV Shows and Movies in 10 languages and coverage of major global sporting events,” the streaming service said on Twitter.
As HBO content will no longer be available on the platform, Disney+ Hotstar users will no longer be able to watch popular shows such as Game of Thrones, Euphoria, Chernobyl, The Last of Us as well as live sports content including the Premier League soccer.
Recent Shifts In Disney+Hostar Content Portfolio
It is important to note that Disney also did not renew the rights for Formula One. Previously, F1 races were aired on Star Sports TV channels and on the Disney+ Hotstar platform. Rather, Motor Sport Formula 1’s OTT video platform F1 TV entered the Indian market last month, ahead of 2023 FIA Formula One World Championship.
In the October-December quarter earnings call, Disney announced the plans to cut $5 Bn cost which include plans to cut $3 Bn from its budget for movies and TV shows.
CEO Iger said it is time for another transformation, “one that rationalises the company’s enviable streaming business and puts it on a path to sustain growth and profitability, while also reducing expenses to improve margins and returns and better positioning us to weather future disruption, increased competition and global economic challenges.”
Last year, Disney also lost the digital streaming rights of the marquee cricket tournament Indian Premier League (IPL) to Viacom18, ending its five-year monopoly of IPL rights. Viacom18 bagged the digital rights of the IPL for the 2023-27 period.
Is The Streaming Service Losing Its Glory?
In its biggest-ever quarterly loss, Disney+ Hotstar lost 3.8 Mn subscribers in the October-December quarter of 2022. Its subscriber base declined 6% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) to 57.7 Mn as on December 31, 2022.
The pulling out of HBO content could have more negative impact on the streaming service’s subscriber base as it rose to popularity on the back of its premium English content, as well as live sports content, especially IPL.
Already several users have started demanding a refund of their subscription fee, while many also asked the platform to ‘reduce its prices’ after Hotstar announced HBO content will no longer be available.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) may expand its partnership with Amazon Prime Video in India, which already carries the HBO Max originals, as per reports.
While Disney+ Hotstar has been leading the Indian OTT space, it may find it challenging to retain its position as Amazon Prime Video, and Reliance backed Jio Cinema are also gearing up efforts to grab more viewership. The Mukesh Ambani-led Viacom18 also revealed its plans recently to stream the Indian Premier League (IPL) for free on JioCinema.
Novi Digital Entertainment, which operates video streaming service Disney+Hotstar, reported a 43% decline in its net loss to INR 343.16 Cr in FY22 from INR 600.77 Cr in FY21 on the back of a sharp rise in its operating revenue.
“Disney+ Hotstar has been downloaded by more than 500 Mn users, making it one of the most in-demand apps in India. Further, Disney+ Hotstar has had up to 221 Mn monthly active users during 2021-2022,” the company said.
The streaming platform’s operating revenue jumped 93% to INR 3,220.41 Cr from INR 1,670.53 Cr in the previous fiscal year, as per data sourced from business intelligence platform Tofler. It is to be noted that Disney+ Hotstar still aired IPL, as well as HBO content during FY22.