Hotstar has around 8 million paying subscribers in India, its owner Disney revealed. This is significant, as Hotstar, now rebranded as Disney+ Hotstar, has never revealed how many paying subscribers it has in India, choosing instead to reveal total viewer counts — the service’s ad supported tier has several more takers. Hotstar Premium was launched in April 2016, and the cheaper VIP tier was launched in 2019. The 8 million count includes VIP users, who pay less than Rs 400 per year (which is less than the monthly price for Disney+ in other countries). All in all, Hotstar tells advertisers that it has 300 million monthly users, which would make paying subscribers under 3% of its user base.

Disney+ now has more than 50 million subscribers globally, per Disney’s announcements, including the 8 million Disney+ Hotstar subscribers in India.

Disney has been pushing for a form of self-regulation of streaming services in India that would require streaming services to submit to the authority of a Digital Content Complaints Committee, raising the spectre of self-censorship, we reported last month. Those efforts are briefly stalled as the Internet and Mobile Association of India is struggling to get enough streaming services on board to take the proposal to the government.

Estimating subscriber revenue

It’s hard to pinpoint Hotstar’s exact subscriber revenue. Prices have gone up from Rs 365 to Rs 399 a year for its VIP plan, and from Rs 999 to Rs 1,499 for the Premium plan. And we don’t know how many users pay for Premium versus VIP, which have very different prices. And then there’s the monthly Premium plan, whose price was increased in April 2019 from Rs 199 to Rs 299 (the cheaper VIP tier has no monthly plan). But we can make some assumptions.

Let’s do a few scenarios, assuming 8 million to be the current number of subscribers. How much did Hotstar make over the last year, including after rebranding to Disney+ Hotstar?

Scenario 1

Here, we’ll assume:

  • 10% more subscribers were added after Disney+ launched on Hotstar.
  • 70% of paid subscriptions are the inexpensive annual VIP plans, which cost less than Rs 400 for the whole year.
  • 30% of Premium subscribers pay monthly.
Subscription Plan Old Pricing Users (90%) New Pricing Users (10%) Old Pricing Revenue (annual) New Pricing Revenue (annual) Total
Premium 15,12,000 1,68,000‬ Rs 1,51,04,88,000‬ Rs 25,18,32,000 Rs 1,76,23,20,000‬
VIP 50,40,000 5,60,000 Rs 1,83,96,00,000‬ Rs 22,34,40,000 Rs 2,06,30,40,000‬
Premium (monthly) 7,20,000 Not applicable Rs 2,58,33,60,000‬ Not applicable Rs 2,58,33,60,000‬

 

Total revenue: Rs 640.87 crore (~US$83.8 million as of writing) made between April 2019 and now.

Scenario 2

This time, let’s assume:

  • Despite Disney’s marketing efforts, only 5% of new users were added in April.
  • Only 10% of users are Premium subscribers
  • 20% of Premium users pay monthly instead of saving money by paying annually.
Subscription Plan Old Users (95%) New Users (5%) Old Pricing Revenue (annual) New Pricing Revenue (annual) Total
Premium 6,08,000 32,000 Rs 60,73,92,000 Rs 4,79,68,000 Rs 65,53,60,000
VIP 68,40,000 3,60,000 Rs 2,49,66,00,000 Rs 14,36,40,000 Rs 2,64,02,40,000
Premium (monthly) 1,60,000 Not applicable Rs 57,40,80,000 Not applicable Rs 57,40,80,000

 

Total revenue: Rs 386.96 crore (~US$50.6 million as of writing) made between April 2019 and now.

Scenario 3

Let’s assume:

  • Hotstar added a mere 2% of new users after rebranding
  • The vast majority — 95% of users — are Hotstar VIP subscribers
  • For Premium subscribers, 90% have chosen to save money by paying annually.
Subscription Plan Old Users (98%) New Users (2%) Old Pricing Revenue (annual) New Pricing Revenue (annual) Total
Premium 3,52,800 7,200 Rs 35,24,47,200 Rs 1,07,92,800 Rs 36,32,40,000
VIP 74,48,000 1,52,000 Rs 2,71,85,20,000 Rs 6,06,48,000 Rs 2,77,91,68,000
Premium (monthly) 39,200 Not applicable Rs 14,35,20,000 Not applicable Rs 1,43,520,000

 

Total revenue: Rs 328.59 crore (~US$42.96 million as of writing) made between April 2019 and now.

Share of subscriber revenue in overall earnings

Between April 2018 and March 2019, Hotstar made Rs 1,112 crore, almost double what it made the previous financial year. If that doubling holds this year as well, the revenue for FY 2019–20 could be in the neighbourhood of Rs 2,224 crore. Out of this revenue, anywhere from around Rs 390 to Rs 700 crore could be coming from paid subscriptions, as shown above. That means that around 3% of Hotstar’s users are accounting for 17–34% of total earnings. But this also means that a comfortable majority of Hotstar’s revenue still comes from the free ad-supported tier.

For comparison, Media Partners Asia estimates that Netflix India could have upwards of 2 million subscribers. Based on that revenue, and assuming that 20% of users are on the mobile-only plan, Netflix could be making over ₹1000 crores a year, half of Hotstar’s total revenue, and not too far away from the Disney-owned service’s paid subscriber revenue.