Hotstar has surged to the top of the Indian on-demand video streaming market over the past few years on the back of live sports and streaming content. Its growth has coincided with the rise of live TV streaming and original online programming in the country. Just consider the immense popularity of the cricket tournament Indian Premier League, and how much it has added to the appeal of Hotstar — not just in India either.
Over the past years, all of Hotstar’s innovations have come through IPL’s prism — this includes the company’s ad network floated last year, as well as the in-app rewards for users through various mini-games. It has made Hotstar India’s streaming king. This year’s IPL has set a new world record for Hotstar beating its own record from last year. The company has now announced that with a peak concurrency of 12.7 Mn viewers, with 267 Mn viewers overall in three weeks. That’s a staggering figure even for live TV.
IPL is Hotstar’s trump card in the long-term battle against Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and other competitors, but every year the now-Disney-owned platform pulls an ace from its sleeve, to further cement its pole position. Winter may be Game Of Thrones’ predominant season, but for Hotstar the mega HBO show represents spring and great growth.
This year’s GoT Season 8 opener drew extremely high search interest across India. This highlights how entrenched the show is in India, but Hotstar was not far behind.
Google Trends normalises the volume of searches in a region to give you an idea of which terms are trending more at a certain time. A score of 100 here means the search volume is as high as it has been ever before. It must be noted that Google Trends doesn’t give you an absolute volume of searches but shows you how much a topic is trending in comparison to the baseline.
Search interest in Hotstar matched the wild popularity of Game of Thrones in most places across India as can be seen by the pale red areas on the map below.
With its global popularity Game Of Thrones was trending over Hotstar, but with the platform being the only legal way for fans in India to watch the show online, it stands to reason that the app saw a positive impact from this volume of search.
In fact, we can see searches for the streaming service doubled in the early hours of Monday, as seen in the blue spike below. Here’s a look at the search trend for the morning of April 15. The huge spikes for both search terms happened early in the day, just when the episode started airing.
This is the biggest spike in search trends for Hotstar in relation to its content in the past month, including the high-profile IPL 2019 launch day at the end of March. Before the launch of IPL, Hotstar search interest remained flat and did not see any big spikes.
Given that Game of Thrones is a Hotstar Premium offering, we also saw a minor spike in searches for Hotstar Premium around the same time. This small spike as seen below for the blue line represents a 3X growth in search volume for that term.
Related search keywords tell you in what context people are searching for a particular term. For instance, the most trending related keyword for Hotstar is Hotstar Premium and not Game of Thrones, which indicates most people were interested in Hotstar Premium in the morning than Game of Thrones. Of course, this spike in Hotstar Premium is thanks to the GoT season premiere.
As evident in the related searches graph, Hotstar Premium had a huge volume of searches — as Google has normalised it to 100 on the Trends chart, which is the highest rank for trends.
Going back to the last Game of Thrones season, we can also see searches for Hotstar go up when it aired the season 7 of Game of Thrones on July 16, 2017. Here, the searches for Hotstar went up by 10-15 percent before the launch.
Hotstar has set the pace in India as far as streaming is concerned, and while a huge part of it is down to the record-breaking IPL deal, it’s also a fact that Indians have become more familiar with the television industry around the world over the years, especially thanks to Netflix and Amazon Prime’s success as well. Game of Thrones is clearly peak frenzy, as far the global television is concerned. No other show has managed to do this in the past half a decade and we doubt any show will come close to its success across geographies and cultures.
With Game of Thrones going on all month, the platform could see a surge of new sign-ups this month. The company announced last week that it had crossed 300 Mn users in India, and is already working with many content creation startups to bring more original programming to its platform. While originals may be the next big ticket item, for now there’s no doubt that Game of Thrones is clearly king of the seven kingdoms of Hotstar.
Update 1: 1.10 PM, April 16, 2019
Updated Hotstar’s viewership figures for IPL based on press release dated April 16, 2019.