According to experts monitoring the over-the-top (OTT) industry, Disney+Hotstar, the streaming platform that lost the digital rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the 2023-2027 period, is facing a double blow from the removal of HBO content. The loss of HBO content is expected to result in a double-digit decrease in paid subscribers, with around 15 million users likely to be affected.
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Disney+ Hotstar will no longer have the rights to stream HBO content from 31st March 2023. Disney CEO Bob Iger earlier unveiled a cost-cutting plan aimed at reducing expenses by $5.5 billion. The plan included $3 billion in cuts for non-sports-related content and $2.5 billion in non-content-related expenses.
Disney+ Hotstar announced that starting March 31, its users will no longer have access to HBO content. The partnership between Star India and HBO, which gave Hotstar users access to popular shows like Game of Thrones and The Wire, among others, will come to an end. However, the streaming service assured its subscribers that they could still enjoy its extensive library of content, including over 100,000 hours of TV shows and movies in 10 languages.
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The loss of HBO content is believed to prompt an exodus of subscribers from the digital platform. Disney+ Hotstar's subscriber base fell by 3.8 million in the December quarter, bringing the total number of paying customers down to 57.5 million.
Karan Taurani, senior vice president at Elara Capital, has stated that the loss of HBO content on Disney+ Hotstar and the absence of IPL streaming rights will have a significant negative impact on Hotstar India's paid subscribers. Taurani predicts that the loss of subscribers will continue towards the June 2023 quarter due to the absence of IPL.
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Taurani also added that the removal of HBO content from Disney+ Hotstar is estimated to result in a total subscriber loss of approximately 25-30%.
By the end of 2023, Disney+ Hotstar's subscriber base is expected to be 43-46 million. Despite this, Karan Taurani believes that the platform's existing library of TV content from Star, the upcoming World Cup, and famous franchises like Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar could help alleviate some of the impacts.
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