The impact of COVID-19 outbreak is now reaching Disney as well. The media giant, which was scheduled to launch its Disney+ streaming service in India on March 29th, has decided to postpone the same. And the cancellation comes due to the postponement world’s biggest cricketing league, the IPL. Disney+ was set to launch on Hotstar, a streaming platform owned by Disney media subsidiary in India, Star India.
By launching the streaming service together with the commencement of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Disney was looking to convert most of these free users to paid subscribers. Since the start of IPL is up in the air now, it would have made little sense to launch the service at this point in time.
Uday Shankar, President, The Walt Disney Company APAC, and Chairman, Star & Disney India, said in a statement, “We recently announced that Disney+ would launch in India through the Hotstar service in conjunction with the beginning of the Indian Premier League cricket season. Given the delay of the season, we have made the decision to briefly pause the roll-out of Disney+ and will announce a new revised premiere date for the service soon,”
Hotstar had previously rolled a new version of the app in preparation for the launch of Disney+. Along with a revamped logo, the app had also provided access to Disney+ content to some users. However, the service was rescinded within a day. A spokesperson for the streaming platform confirmed that the exercise was to “test the Disney+ Hotstar app with a small number of consumers”.
“A limited release of the beta version of the Disney+ Hotstar app is currently being tested with a small number of consumers, in preparation for the full-fledged app launch on 29 March,” the platform confirmed.
Hotstar was taken over by Disney as a part of its $71 billion acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox in 2019. With this latest venture, Disney will be competing with the like of Amazon Prime Video, Apple, and Netflix in the booming online streaming market in India.
Hotstar had reported 300 Million active users last year, largely due to the live streaming of IPL matches on the platform. The platform, though the biggest in India by market share, witnesses peak viewership largely during cricketing tournaments. It gets those streaming rights, thanks to its parent group Star India, which currently has rights to telecast and stream not just the IPL, but all of Indian Cricket team’s matches.