In the lucrative — and booming — Indian subscription streaming VOD market, Disney+ is beating industry veterans Netflix and Amazon Prime Video handily. New data from London-based research firm Omdia (formerly IHS Markit) finds the service accounted for 50% of all SVOD subs in India in 2020. India represents 30% of Disney’s 100+ million SVOD subs globally.
Online video subs revenue grew 142% primarily due to the global pandemic, with revenue rising from $265 million in 2019 to $639 million at the end of 2020. Disney+ Hotstar and Netflix accounted for 78% of the total online video subscription market revenue.
Disney acquired Indian digital platform Hotstar through its $71.3 billion acquisition of 20th Century Fox assets two years ago.
Over the past year, Disney+ Hotstar has tripled its subscriber base from 8 million to 25.6 million. This growth is partly down to the bundling of Disney+ and Hotstar, as well as the postponement of the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket from April to September as well as competitive pricing plans and exclusive rights to foreign content such as “Game of Thrones.”
Netflix India also grew its subscription base significantly, rising to 4.4 million, up from 2.4 million in 2019.
“The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the growth rate of an already dynamic and robust OTT market,” analyst Constantinos Papavassilopoulos said in a statement. “The basic elements that will propel the market to further growth in the near future are already there: very affordable mobile broadband prices, high penetration of smart-phones, a population eager to consume more content, an ever-growing investment in Indian originals and a plethora of choices with more than 40 OTT services operating in the country.”
Indeed, India is a market obsessed with mobile access to media. The world’s No. 2 population has more than 1.1 billion cellphone subscribers. Omdia says 82% of Indian online video services are accessed through smartphones, with only 39% accessing content through dedicated TV apps.
Disney+ Hotstar offers three content packages. The VIP plan (INR 399 per year) offers dubbed local language content, while Premium (INR 299 per month) offers both English and dubbed version of content. In terms of device access, the VIP plan only allows its subs to watch on one screen in HD while Premium plan allows subscribers to watch on two screens simultaneously in Full HD.
Separately, India was the launch site for Netflix’s first mobile-only SVOD plan, while Amazon bowed a $1.20 priced Prime Video plan. Lionsgate launched a branded SVOD service in India, dubbed Lionsgate Play, to go along with its Starz Arabia streaming service.
In 2021, Amazon and Netflix will continue their large investment in original Indian content, with the two services set to invest around $340 million, representing 52% of the total content investment. Omdia expects that close to 400 original titles (mostly series) will be produced this year by foreign and local Indian OTT services.
By offering affordable streaming plans and partnering with large telecoms such as Jio Reliance, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India, Omdia expects that mobile-only SVOD subscriptions will continue to grow over the next couple of years. However, these plans face increased challenges from traditional pay-TV services, which are aggregating OTT video with their core linear TV service.