The Walt Disney Company is preparing to shutter one of their streaming services, but not any of the ones you might be thinking. Variety reports that Disney's US operations of the streamer Hotstar, which primarily features "live cricket and South Asian programming" according to the trade, will be phased out "over the next year." The content that audiences would find on Hotstar will be divided between ESPN+ (for all the live cricket matches) and Hulu (for the library of original content and films). They further note that Disney's hope is for subscribers to move their Hotstar subscription to "the Disney Bundle" which includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+.
Disney is reportedly hoping to completely "shut down Hotstar in the U.S." by the end of next year and cricket matches moving to ESPN+ on September 1st, tomorrow. In a statement to the trade, Disney wrote: "The move from Hotstar, a premium brand for South Asian content, to ESPN Plus and Hulu in the U.S. expands upon the rich and diverse catalog of live events and stories delivered across the Disney Bundle and provides a platform for South Asian content to reach broader audiences." An annual subscription to Hotstar would previously run just $49.99 a year while the Disney Bundle is sitting at $13.99 a month.
Hulu is set to add originals from Hotstar soon too including the Indian adaptation of "The Office" and more.
Disney moving their Hotstar streaming onto their ESPN+ and Hulu brands is the latest marker of how important their streaming video on demand services are to their overall business plan. Earlier this month came word from Disney that the flagship Disney+ streaming service had gained an additional 12.4 million new subscribers in Q3, bringing the worldwide subscriber total for Disney's streaming service to 116 million, as of July 3rd, beating expectations.
"As we've said, our direct-to-consumer business is the Company's top priority," Disney CEO Bob Chapek said during the Q3 2021 earnings call. "And among our unique advantages in promoting and growing our DTC service are our powerhouse brands and the vast array of direct consumer touch points we have across our businesses - from our media networks to our theme parks to our consumer products. This synergy enables us to raise consumer awareness and further increase engagement with our streaming services. And the power of this synergy will be on full display on November 12th when we celebrate Disney+ Day with an unprecedented company-wide cross-promotional campaign."
Disney+ Day will no doubt try to sway more Disney Bundle subscribers.