Hotstar's Powerplay: ICC Cricket Tournaments Go Free To Bat Against Subscriber Slide

Digital streaming giant Hotstar, owned by the Walt Disney Co, announced on Friday that it would make cricket tournaments like the Asia Cup and ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup free for all mobile users.

What Happened? This move comes after Hotstar lost the streaming rights for the widely-followed Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament to Reliance Industries’ JioCinema.

JioCinema chose to make the tournament free for viewing, which led to a record-breaking 1.47 billion digital views in just the first weekend of the tournament. By removing the paywall, Hotstar aims to regain some of the audience that shifted to JioCinema for IPL matches.

According to a report from May 2023, Hotstar witnessed a significant loss of about 8.4 million subscribers over the past six months. This dip has contributed to a 2% decrease in overall Disney+ memberships, bringing the total down from 161.8 million to 157.8 million.

See also: What Is Reliance Jio's Share Price And How To Buy

Streaming wars: During the quarter that ended on April 1, Disney+ Hotstar in India suffered an 8% drop in memberships. It lost 4.6 million subscribers, bringing its total subscriber count down to 52.9 million. This downturn is the second quarterly subscriber loss in a row and coincides with Hotstar losing the rights to stream Indian Premier League (IPL) matches and HBO content.

JioCinema, in addition to acquiring HBO content rights, has recently inked a multi-year agreement with NBC Universal. This deal will deliver a range of movies and TV shows from the US media company to Indian audiences, thereby intensifying competition for Hotstar.

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