Hotstar has launched a VIP subscription option where users can watch Hotstar original, STAR network content including the Indian Premier League, ICC Cricket World Cup etc for Rs 365 per year, reports the Indian Express. VIP subscribers can watch STAR shows before they’re aired on TV, at 6am. If they wish to, users can pay by cash for this VIP subscription, which will be collected in 48-72 hours from the user’s usage start time. They can also sign in using a phone number.

Hotstar’s VIP plan comes at a time when Netflix is testing a mobile-only subscription which would cost Rs 250 per month. This will allow subscribers to watch standard definition (SD) content on one mobile or tablet screen at a time. Netflix’s regular entry-level plan costs Rs 500 a month. In Q4FY19, Netflix added 7 million paid memberships outside the US. (Related read: Why Netflix joining the MPAA is a big deal)

Hotstar’s current plans cost Rs 129 per month or Rs 999 per year, and a sports pack for Rs 299 per year. The VIP pack works out to Rs 30.5 per month, at Rs 365 per year, but will not include any premium English content from HBO, Disney, Hooq or 21st Century Fox. Hotstar’s All Annual Sports plan users will be upgraded to VIP for free. Hotstar claimed that it had 82 million viewers during 2018’s IPL.

Note that in January, Star India’s Star Sports Network and Hotstar got the exclusive streaming rights for the international football tournament AFC Asian Cup 2019. Hotstar and Star Sports Network will broadcast all games in Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Kannada and Malayalam.

Foray into original content, English language library

Earlier this month, Hotstar announced its first set of originals under ‘Hotstar Specials’ in partnership with Aditya Birla Group’s Applause Entertainment. In January, it said that it would invest Rs 120 crore into producing original content to compete with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and others, who are producing their own originals for India.

In October 2018, Hooq signed the rights to 6,000 hours of shows and films which it owns, to Hotstar. Hotstar would broadcast this content to its Premium subscribers, bulking up Hotstar’s English-language content, as Hooq pivoted to focus more on English-language content.

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