Hotstar surpasses 300 mn monthly users: Uday Shankar

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Uday Shankar, the Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific president and Star & Disney India chairman, has shared the group’s strong position at the Disney Global Summit on Thursday (April 11) last. Hotstar with over 300 million monthly users has been placed among the largest video platforms in the world, whereas Star captures 65% of the sports television market share in India, revealed Uday Shankar.

Talking about the growth and future of Hotstar, the Star India boss explained at length how Hotstar has managed to breach the 300 million monthly active users mark, something that places Star Group’s video on demand platform among the largest in the world and what the OTT platform is ready to offer in the next few years.

“India is the largest growing economy in the world. Currently the sixth largest, it has hit this milestone in less than three decades. GDP growth has averaged 8% over the last decade and the trend is projected to continue. By the end of the next decade, it will be the third largest economy in the world. A key driver of this growth is favourable demographics. We are talking about a market that has 600 million consumers below the age of 25. That by the way is the largest youth population in the world. Besides the general power of consumption of this demographic, this is also a population that is extremely comfortable with modern trends, including digital media consumption,” said Uday Shankar.

Speaking at the Disney’s Investor Day, he also revealed Star India’s position, claiming that the Indian television market leader claims 30% share in the TV and digital video market, while also capturing the 40% of local affiliate or subscription revenue.

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“Today, Star captures 30% of all TV advertising and almost 30% of all digital video advertising as well. It also takes 40% of all TV affiliate revenue. Our goal is to improve these shares further with a cross screen advertising engine,” said Uday Shankar. “In the last two decades, Star has developed a capacity to develop market leading entertainment and sports content in eight languages. For every four hours of TV watched in India, 1 hour is on Star. Star broadcasts 250 days of live sports every year and has a 65% share of sports viewership in India,” he said.

Hotstar, with over 100,000 hours of drama, movies, sports and sports content, accounts for 40 per cent of all long-form digital video consumed in India. “Given the large Indian population, we built Hotstar for scale and focused on creating a scaled advertising platform too rather than focusing only on the nascent subscription market,” Uday Shankar explained. “Hotstar is arguably more advanced in engagement initiatives than any other service in India. These include gamification of content, a social experience around video and even allowing in-app transactions now. As a result, an active viewer spends 2.7 times more time on video than a passive viewer. “

He also revealed the targeted, potential market for the company’s business growth in India. “India has a strong and rapidly growing middle class. The number of households earning more than $8,500 a year has grown by 10% annually. And this segment will constitute almost half of the population by 2028. If you consider purchasing power parity, discretionary consumer spending in this market is going to be extremely attractive and the media industry is set to be a key beneficiary.”

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The Star India supremo also hinted about the importance and role do mobile screen, which is growing into the primary screen of the major segment of video content consumers in India. The affluent are opting for mobile as their personal screen and the not-so-affluent are having their first screen experience on mobile phones. “The trend will continue to get stronger and as a result, India is set to have more internet users than the entire population in the G7 countries put together. In the next five years, India will have over a billion video screens. However, what is most exciting is the rate at which wireless data is becoming available and affordable. From one of the most expensive data markets in the world, data costs have crashed to as low as 2 cents per GB today. All of this while, access to data has exploded. In just 2 years, per capita data usage has shot up 12 times on account of video streaming. Today, an average Indian viewer already spends two and a half hours on video every day. In the next five years, it is set to double to five hours/day. Smartphones are going to drive that search,” Uday had said.

“Together, advertising on TV and Digital is projected to grow at about 20% annually to $14bn in the next five years. Hunger for content and ability to pay are also unlocking growth in consumer payments for video. That market is expected to be $12bn in next five years.”

Uday Shankar also shared how Star “was ahead of the curve”.

“When everybody was dismissing India as a data-dark market, we anticipated the impending shift and built Hotstar. We also kept mobile, and in particular android, at the centre of our strategy and created an app that was high quality feature rich but it was also light and nimble. We also put all of our television content on Hotstar almost simultaneously with its linear airing. Given the large Indian population, we built Hotstar for scale and focused on creating a scaled advertising platform too rather than focusing only on the nascent subscription market. Today it accounts for 40% of all long form video consumption in India. Star has always been interested in creating and owning Intellectual Property. Today that rich library is serving us very well.

“We have also localised our sports offering. Cricket has always been an obsession in India. But for decades, its reach was limited because it was served largely in English. We took cricket deeper and made it more accessible in Indian languages. The success of our strategy is reflected in the improved performance of IPL last season. Localisation and creativity also led us to develop uniquely Indian sport like kabaddi, which has already become the number 2 sport in India.”

He also mentioned that the easier and cheaper availability of  data has been a major contributor to the growth in digital video consumption, which has shot up 12 times on account of video streaming. “An average Indian spends 2.5 hours on video every day. In the next five years, this is set to double to 5 hours a day. Smartphones are going to drive that surge. That is why India has emerged as a thriving market for advertising as well as consumer payments,” he said.

The ad spends on TV and digital together is projected to grow at 21% to $14 billion in the next five years. The video subscription market is expected to be $12 billion in next five years thanks to the hunger for content. All this has made India a magnet for all global media and content companies, Shankar shared. “Our business Star India has played a key role in shaping this market so far. Driven by our strength in content and our uniquely successful digital delivery platform Hotstar, we have a pole position in this incredible market,” he added.

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