WarnerMedia has announced that it will discontinue HBO and WB in India and four other South Asian countries from December 15.
“After 20 years of successes for the HBO linear movie channel in South Asia and more than a decade with the WB linear movie channel, this was a difficult decision to make. The pay-TV industry landscape and the market dynamics have shifted dramatically, and the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for further change,” said Siddharth Jain, SVP and Managing Director of WarnerMedia’s entertainment network in South Asia, in a statement.
HBO also maintains a content syndication partnership with Disney’s Hotstar in India. So the streamer will continue to offer HBO’s shows such as “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”
The channels’ closure is significant, as it represents a major chunk of televised English-language entertainment broadcast in India.
The closure of HBO and WB, both strong brands, is also an indicator of the growth of OTT platforms like Hotstar, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in India. The news was first reported by TechCrunch.
In India, the pandemic has also accelerated the growth of OTT. The growth which was potentially anticipated to happen somewhere in late 2021-2022 has been accelerated in 2020 itself. India saw a 55% hike in overall streaming traffic.
With high bandwidth internet, low mobile data tariffs and access to the best smartphones and upcoming technologies, the urge to consume content on-the-go is growing faster than most content creators can keep up with. This has opened up an ever-rising opportunity for over-the-top (OTT) streaming players in India for both B2B and B2C segments.
According to Inc42Plus, ‘India’s OTT Market Landscape Report 2020’, Netflix, which has around 182 Mn+global subscribers has close to 3 Mn subscribers in India. However, it is on the backfoot compared to Disney-owned Hotstar, which claims to have a subscriber base of 8 Mn+.
Between March and November 2019, around 30 Mn internet users came online for the first time from rural areas. This is in addition to around 71 Mn users (out of total 504 Mn internet users) in the age bracket of five to 11 years using internet services on devices owned by family members.