HBO content, which includes popular shows such as House of the Dragon, Game of Thrones — and current fan favourite, The Last of Us — is reportedly set to leave Disney+ Hotstar in India. The streaming service, which is the biggest and most popular in India by user base, is expected to end the deal with HBO to stream the television network's extensive catalogue of content going forward, as per a report. Disney+ Hotstar also streams content from Disney in India, including the movies and shows from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the Star Wars Universe.
A Deadline report citing local industry sources, states that HBO content is set to leave Disney+ Hotstar soon, and seems to be in-line with the restructuring plans announced be recently-reinstated CEO of Disney, Bob Iger.
The deal to stream HBO content in India, sealed with Hotstar in 2015 after the platform made its debut, is said to have contributed significantly to the platform's growth during its early years. The HBO catalogue, which at the time included on-time streaming of episodes of the popular show Game of Thrones, was a huge draw for subscribers, and helped the platform sell premium subscriptions.
However, the Deadline report suggests that English-language content in India is still viewed as niche. Disney+ Hotstar could therefore turn to producing or licensing more local content, or focus on its sports portfolio going forward. This would naturally affect the subscriber base of the platform, which has already taken a hit following the loss of the Indian Premier League's streaming rights.
For many years, the popular Indian Premier League cricket tournament was streamed on Hotstar, but that has already changed hands with Viacom18 bagging the streaming rights for the tournament from 2023 onwards. Disney+ Hotstar does continue to stream various other sports content, including the English Premier League and the Indian Super League. Hotstar was rebranded to Disney+ Hotstar in 2020 following the acquisition of Fox (Hotstar and Star's parent company), and Disney+ content such as Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars universe movies and shows have since been available to stream on Disney+ Hotstar.
Citing industry analysts, the report suggests that HBO content could move to a different platform in India, with Amazon Prime Video viewed as the frontrunner to bag the streaming rights. This could be in the form of the shows being added to the standard subscription catalogue as part of Prime Video, or in the form of HBO Max being made a part of Prime Video Channels, where an additional subscription fee will be charged to access the content. Prime Video already has a deal in place with Warner Brothers Discovery to stream some HBO Max original shows in India, including The Flight Attendant and Raised by Wolves.
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