Disney+ Hotstar to stop streaming HBO content from March 31

Disney+ Hotstar lost the rights to stream IPL last year, leading to a steep fall in subscribers and now the removal of HBO content is due.

Edited By: Shubham Verma

Published: Mar 09, 2023, 02:23 PM IST

Disney+ Hotstar to stop streaming HBO content from March 31

Disney+ Hotstar has dealt a major blow to its existing subscribers by announcing that the entire HBO portfolio, including tentpole shows such as Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon, and The Last of Us, will stop streaming from March 31. The removal of HBO content comes months after India's biggest streaming service lost the rights to stream Indian Premiere League (IPL) matches for the next four years.

Replying to a Twitter user, Disney+ Hotstar's customer support handle said that March's last day. "Starting 31st March, HBO content will be unavailable on Disney+ Hotstar," the tweet read. The Walt Disney-owned streaming service tried to soften the blow, saying "You can continue enjoying Disney+ Hotstar's vast library of content spanning over 100,000 hours of TV Shows and Movies in 10 languages and coverage of major global sporting events.."

Hotstar's rise and fall

Launched in 2015, Hotstar quickly managed to gain subscribers piggybacking on cricket tournaments, amassing huge viewership in India. Months after Walt Disney acquired 21st Century Fox, which owned Star and Hotstar, the streaming service was rebranded to Disney+ Hotstar to represent a service that retains mostly everything Hotstar was previously offering and introduces the Disney+ content. But Hotstar was also popular because it had streaming rights to HBO Original shows, including the global phenomenon, The Game of Thrones.

Disney+ Hotstar, however, lost the rights to stream IPL last year, leading to a steep fall in subscribers. The streaming service lost over 3.8 million paid subscribers worldwide in December. Viacom18, which owns Jio Cinema, bagged the IPL streaming rights. Later, Disney+ Hotstar missed out on the opportunity to stream Formula 1 (F1) race tournaments in India. And with the unfortunate news of the impending removal of the HBO portfolio, the existing paid subscribers feel high and dry.

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Reports suggest that Disney+ Hotstar's license to stream HBO shows in India and some other markets where HBO's streaming service does not have a direct presence could be expiring in a few days. Coinciding with this development is HBO's rumoured plan to launch HBO Max in India, which, according to some reports, is unable to fructify. That calls for an alternate plan that can benefit HBO more. According to a Deadline report, Warner Bros Discovery, the company that owns HBO, could be talking to Amazon Prime Video to stream HBO Max content in India.

What's left?

With the marginalisation of its portfolio, Disney+ Hotstar is left with less appeal among the Indian audience. Disney+ Hotstar's original shows, such as Arya and Criminal Justice, are a hit among the audience, while Star television shows, including Anupama, are also only available on Disney+ Hotstar. Then, the entire Disney+ catalogue, including Marvel and Pixar movies and Star Wars collection, is available to stream on Disney+ Hotstar. It is not clear whether Showtime content will stay. So are the costs of the subscriptions.

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Author Name | Shubham Verma

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