The streaming wars in India are about to restart. The Disney+ service, which was expected in India towards the end of the months, is already here ahead of time. And we are absolutely not complaining. The update for the Hotstar app is now rolling out across platforms, with the new branding that now sees it named as Disney+ Hotstar. At this time, there seems to be no changes to the premium subscription plans, and Disney+ Hotstar continues to roll on with the Hotstar Premium and Hotstar VIP subscriptions at this time. There was a sense so far that Disney+ would launch in India on March 29.
The Disney+ Hotstar Premium subscription costs Rs 299 per month or Rs 999 per year while the Disney+ Hotstar VIP plan costs Rs 365 per year. In India, Disney+ Hotstar goes into battle with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Zee5, Sony Liv and Voot. At this time, Netflix currently offers four subscription plans in India—the mobile-only plan is priced at Rs 199 per month, the single-screen plan for Rs 499 per month, the two screens subscription for Rs 649 per month while the top-tier Ultra HD 4K four screen plan costs Rs 799 per month. Amazon charges Rs 129 per month or Rs 999 per year for the Prime subscription that also includes Amazon Video. Among the Indian streaming services that also let you stream some Live TV channels as Hotstar also does, Sony Liv charges Rs 499 per year for the premium pack, while Zee5 will cost Rs 999 per year for the All Access Pack.
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What we are seeing at this time in the Disney+ Hotstar app is that some of the new Disney+ content is labelled as Premium while some of the movies and shows are labeled as VIP, in a way that content is spread across both subscription tiers.
Hotstar VIP subscription will include live sports streaming on the platform, as well as access to all Hotstar Specials, and original content. The sports streaming includes all cricket matches that Hotstar has the rights to stream, including the Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 cricket tournament, as well as the English Premier League football and Formula 1. The Star India content will include programs from channels including Star Plus, Life OK, Star Bharat, and Star Utsav. At the moment, Hotstar VIP is only available as an annual subscription pack, though we could get a monthly subscription option too at some point. At Rs 365 for an entire year, the Hotstar VIP subscription plan is among the most inexpensive annual subscription plan among all streaming services in India. For instance, Amazon charges Rs 129 per month or Rs 999 per year for the Prime subscription that also includes Amazon Video. Netflix subscription options start at Rs 500 per month and there is no annual subscription option. Among the Indian streaming services that also let you stream some Live TV channels as Hotstar also does, Sony Liv charges Rs 499 per year for the premium pack, while Zee5 will cost Rs 999 per year for the All Access Pack.
But the annual lock-in period perhaps dictates that you make your selection wisely between paying for Hotstar VIP or Hotstar Premium, the latter being the top-tier subscription option. What is not included in the Hotstar VIP subscription is the international content, such as the shows from HBO original programming, Showtime, ABC Studios and streaming service Hooq. If you wish to access the international movies and TV shows as well, you will need to subscribe to the Hotstar Premium subscription, priced at Rs 299 per month or Rs 999 if you wish to pay in one go for a year. It is not clear what happens, if at all, to the existing content on the platform from the likes of HBO and Showtime.
The Hotstar app is available for Google's Android phones and tablets as well as the Android TV smart TV platform, the Apple iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, the Amazon Fire TV platform as well as on the web.