The tournaments, which will be held later this year, will be made available as free-to-view to all smartphone users accessing Disney+ Hotstar
Earlier this year, JioCinema decided to stream the IPL for free and saw a record viewership during the tournament
The move by Disney+ Hotstar seems to be aimed at boosting its viewership numbers amid the aggressive competition from JioCinema
Amid rising competition from the likes of Reliance-backed JioCinema and loss of digital streaming rights for some of its popular content, OTT platform Disney+ Hotstar on Friday (June 9) said it would stream the upcoming Asia Cup and ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup for free for mobile users.
The cricket tournaments, which will be held later this year, will be made available as free-to-view to all smartphone users accessing Disney+ Hotstar.
The move to lift the paywall for mobile-only viewers of both, the Asia Cup and the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, is aimed at further democratising the game of cricket and making it accessible to as many mobile users in India as possible for the duration of the season, the company said in a statement.
“Disney+ Hotstar has remained at the forefront of the rapidly evolving OTT industry in India and the various innovations we have introduced to continue enhancing the viewer experience has allowed us to delight our audiences across the region. Making the Asia Cup and ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup available to a wider audience, we believe, will help us grow the overall ecosystem,” Sajith Sivanandan, head of Disney+ Hotstar, said.
Earlier this year, before the beginning of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023, JioCinema announced that it would stream the marquee T20 tournament for free. Disney+ Hotstar, which had the digital rights for IPL before, hosted the cricket tournament behind the paywall.
The move to stream the IPL for free worked for JioCinema as the OTT platform claimed to have witnessed record viewership during the tournament. Over 32 Mn viewers tuned in to watch the IPL 2023 final, featuring Chennai Super Kings and Gujarat Titans, on the platform.
Viacom18, which owns JioCinema, acquired the IPL digital streaming rights of the IPL last year for a whopping INR 23,758 Cr for the 2023-2027 period.
The move by Disney+ Hotstar seems to be aimed at boosting its viewership numbers amid the aggressive competition from JioCinema. Besides IPL, Disney+ Hotstar has also lost the rights for popular content like F1 and HBO over the last few months.
This has resulted in Disney+ Hotstar’s subscriber count dropping by 4.6 Mn during February-April quarter. The OTT platform also lost 3.8 Mn subscribers in the October-December quarter of 2022, months after it lost IPL rights.
However, Disney+ Hotstar is still home to popular cricket tournaments including the Asia Cup 2022, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022, and ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023.
According to brokerage firm Elara Capital, the move by Disney+ Hotstar to offer cricket content free to mobile subscribers, if continued over the medium-term, may result in higher losses for OTT platforms.
Moreover, it may lead to consolidation, as many may be unable to survive with low ARPU and free offerings, and negatively impact subscription revenue growth for global or broadcaster led OTT platforms which are SVOD or freemium based respectively.
Besides JioCinema, Disney+ Hotstar competes with the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and SonyLIV in the crowded Indian OTT market.
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. 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.