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Hotstar shuts service outside India and North America; introduces Premium in US & Canada

Hotstar is no longer available outside India, Canada and the US, and has launched its Premium service in North America, reports IndianTelevision. This comes right after Star won the global digital and television rights for the Indian Premier League, the most valuable sporting series from India. The company said that it would have an ‘exciting new service’ for users outside these territories. At US$10 and CAD$13 a month, Hotstar Premium is thrice as costly as it is in India, and is priced at par with similar services like Netflix and Hulu, which cost anywhere between $8 and $15 a month.

A $192 million push

Media czar Rupert Murdoch’s Star, which owns Hotstar, injected $192 million into the cash-bleeding streaming service over the last six months, regulatory filings show. This investment is crucial as the streaming service prepares for the scale it needs to deliver IPL globally.

While the bulk of Star’s revenue for IPL will come from advertising, subscription pricing coming directly from Hotstar customers — perhaps for an ad-free viewing experience — could play a role in monetizing the media company’s diverse sports rights bouquet. However, considering that Star may not make all the money that it spent on these IPL rights — or may not even want to — the change in strategy and monetization as far as Hotstar is concerned may be limited.

Catalogue and app support

Hotstar will soon also release apps for American streaming player Roku, and Android TV, it said on its website. While the streaming service has content by Fox and Disney in India, it does not have them in the US and Canada because of licensing restrictions, Gadgets360 pointed out. It supports two simultaneous streams per account in the US and Canada, as opposed to just one in India — the extra subscription revenue per user surely can’t hurt in making that happen.

Hotstar recently ran a promotional half-off annual subscription in India in a bid to lure sports enthusiasts. It’ll be interesting to see whether Premium pricing will be hiked in India following Star’s big-ticket IPL rights win.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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