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Disney launches Star as streaming service, add-on to Disney+ outside US, Hotstar has ~26mn subscribers

Disney is using its Indian Star brand as a way to distribute its general entertainment content, including sports and TV shows targeted at older audiences, in markets outside the US. The company announced this in its Investor Day event (watch video here). In many countries where Disney+ is already available, Star will launch as an opt-in brand that will require users to consent to more mature shows and films. In Latin America, Disney will launch Star+ (not to be confused with Star Plus, the Hindi entertainment channel also owned by Disney) as a standalone offering of sports and TV shows not included in Disney+.

Star doesn’t appear to be exporting the vast catalogue of Indian content on Star/Star+. Rather, it is using the Star brand as an alternative to Hulu, the US streaming service that typically syndicates shows from TV networks through a joint venture. Star will launch in select territories on February 23, 2021. It’s unclear what Disney’s plan is to distribute this new Star’s content in India — for instance, FX shows like Atlanta are unavailable on Disney+ Hotstar, or on any Indian streaming service for that matter. We have reached out to Disney for information on their launch plans for FX and other new Star content in India.

~30% of Disney+ subscriptions from Hotstar

Around 30% of the 86.8 million Disney+ subscribers worldwide are Disney+ Hotstar subscribers, Rebecca Campbell, chair of Disney’s International Operations and Direct-to-Consumer said at the event. This essentially means that Hotstar has around 26 million subscribers in India, Indonesia and Singapore. Last month, Walt Disney Company CFO Christine McCarthy said that Hotstar accounted for little over a quarter of Disney+ subscriptions. Now that number seems to have gone up to around 30% in the space of a month, likely driven by the service’s launch in new territories. The recently concluded Indian Premier League tournament may have also played a role in the rapid expansion of the subscriber base. Earnings from Hotstar subscribers couldn’t be ascertained, as Disney only makes it possible to ascertain that number in quarterly financial results.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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