Hotstar, the video streaming platform owned by Disney, has set a new global record for viewership during the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 cricket tournament. Hotstar says it had 18.6 million concurrent viewers streaming the final between Chennai Super Kings and the Mumbai Indians. This was the second time during the same tournament that Hotstar broke the concurrent viewership record—it had clocked 12.7 million concurrent viewers in a match earlier between Royal Challengers Bengaluru and Mumbai Indians.
Hotstar also says that the overall viewership on the streaming platform crossed 300 million viewers and registered a 74 percent increase in watch-time compared with last year’s IPL. “The achievements of this season once again bear witness to Hotstar being the most preferred sports destination for the country. With technology as our backbone and our all-round expertise in driving scale, we are confident we will continue to break global records and set new benchmarks with each passing year,” says Varun Narang, Chief Product Officer, Hotstar, in an official statement. Nothing globally has come close to this.
Ahead of IPL 2019, Hotstar had implemented a new streaming technology that required ten times lesser computing power for streaming, and could handle 2.5 times more streaming traffic simultaneously. This meant users got better streaming quality, resolution and consistency while watching the Live matches on the Hotstar app on their smartphones, tablets and smart TVs, including Android TV and Amazon Fire TV Stick. Since the bit-rates required to stream the same quality of content were now lower than before, the streaming experience meant lesser 4G/3G/Wi-Fi data was consumed comparatively.
During the IPL 2019, Hotstar had also introduced the social element while viewing matches—called #KoiYaarNahiFar. As many as 64.4 million users engaged with this feature, there were 43.5 million comments and 5.9 billion emojis were sent by users to their friends and family.
In 2017, Star India secured the broadcast and streaming rights for the IPL cricket tournament for a five year period, estimated for around $2.5 billion. At the time, Star India was owned by 21st Century Fox, but earlier this year, Walt Disney acquired Star India as a part of the 21st Century Fox businesses for about $71.3 billion.
This has been a great year for Hotstar. The streaming platform has crossed 300 million active users, double the 150 million last year. This is at a time when it is competing with the likes of Netflix, Amazon Video and YouTube Premium, as well as the Indian streaming apps including Sony Liv, Zee5 and Voot. The competition for the rivals is about to get tougher, as Disney is set to launch the Disney+ streaming service later this year globally, and the Disney+ content will be available on Hotstar in India.
Hotstar has three subscription tiers in India. The first is the free tier, which offers limited content. The second is the Hotstar VIP, priced at Rs 365 per year, and bundles premium Indian shows and sports streaming including cricket, football and Formula 1. The top-tier Hotstar Premium is priced at Rs 199 per month or Rs 999 per year and includes all Premium content, including international content from shows from HBO original programming, Showtime, ABC Studios and streaming service Hooq. Once Disney+ content goes Live, that will also be available in India on Hotstar Premium.
The upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 will also be streamed on Hotstar.