Star India's Hotstar has started to roll out support for video streaming in full-HD (1080p), the company confirmed, as it looks to better compete with Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, both of which already offer video streaming in full-HD and also have larger catalogues.
Through a software update, Hotstar this week added support for full-HD (1080p) video streams on its iOS app (for iPhone and iPad). Android users and Web users will have to wait for now as neither of the platforms has 1080p at the time of publishing.
We scanned through the catalogue on Hotstar's iOS client and found that all premium titles such as Game of Thrones, How I Met Your Mother, and so on - are now available in full-HD (1080p). However, many movies and shows, as well as the sports content, still max out at HD (720p). Gadgets 360 had reported about Hotstar's imminent plans to add full-HD support two weeks ago.
The unavailability of 1080p streaming option has frustrated several Hotstar customers for many months. In comparison, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video offer UHD (4K) streaming options for select titles on their respective platforms. This feature has been added soon after Hotstar launched internationally - and the updated app doesn't just add 1080p streams, but also support for Hotstar's two new regions, the USA and Canada.
This is the first time it is expanding the service outside India. In the United States, people will be required to pay $9.99 (roughly Rs. 640) per month, and in Canada, the monthly subscription cost is CAD 12.99 (roughly Rs. 670). The catalogue in those countries is different because of airing rights, and Hotstar's offerings there seem to be much more about Indian-language content, and sports. New users can of course avail of a month's free trial to get started.
After discovering that Hotstar’s iOS client now offers video streaming in full-HD, some users debated about the weird data usage metrics the company is offering. Unlike Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, which tell users how much data would be consumed in one hour of streaming in various resolution, Hotstar shows how long a user could watch a video in particular resolution in HD, and full-HD. Hotstar shows that it can stream for 0.7 hours on 1080p, 1.6 hours on 720p, and 4.1 hours on 360p, using 1GB of data.
"Those metrics probably should be flipped. Or even directly calculated based on video length,” Mumbai-based iOS developer Harshil Shah noted. Another user, Arpit Verma, said it would take him some time just to figure out how long “0.7 of an hour”, for instance, mean.