Leading entertainment conglomerate, Walt Disney Co., is reportedly working towards shutting down its U.S. Hotstar streaming service, followed by a division of its content between ESPN+ and Hulu.
Hotstar was introduced in February 2015 by Star India and was then acquired by Disney in March 2019, through the purchase of 21st Century Fox. Notably, this streaming service mainly features South Asian and Bollywood films as well as programming and cricket matches.
For the uninitiated, Disney rebranded its Disney+ Hotstar service in 2020 in a bid to offer different programming versions across the U.K., Canada, the U.S., Malaysia, Thailand, India, Indonesia, and Singapore.
If sources are to be believed, the company is in talks to end its U.S. platform in late 2022, whilst rescheduling its entertainment programming to Hulu and shifting its sports offerings to ESPN+. It has also been reported that Disney+ service will not be absorbing any of Hotstar’s titles, and there would be no changes in the international versions of Hotstar.
According to market speculations, Hotstar comprises around 40% of the total 116 million Disney+ subscribers. The Hotstar subscription costs USD 49.99 per year in the U.S., and the Disney streaming bundle, inclusive of Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ has subscription levels starting at USD 13.99 per month.
Hotstar’s U.S. subscribers who are not using other Disney streaming services would be eligible to secure the Disney Bundle towards the end of their Hotstar annual subscription at zero additional charges, beginning Sept. 1.
Sources close to the company have cited that this move from Hotstar, which is a premium brand for South Asian content, to Hulu and ESPN Plus in the U.S. will build on the rich and diverse catalog of stories and live events that are delivered over the Disney Bundle. The officials also stated that it would provide a stage for South Asian content to tap into broader audiences.