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Disney+ Hotstar has around 8 million paid subscribers, Disney revealed Wednesday, giving us the first official numbers for what is generally considered India's biggest streaming service with over 300 million monthly active users. (That's 16 percent of Disney+'s total, which has surpassed 50 million paid subscribers globally.) It's hard to make any comparisons, given only a few of its competition in India deals in official numbers.
When Netflix last revealed numbers in January, the world's biggest streaming service — it has over 167 million paid subscribers worldwide — had over 16 million paid subscribers in Asia-Pacific. Netflix doesn't provide numbers by country. Per last available estimates by industry tracker IHS Markit, Amazon Prime had 4.4 million paid members in India, though not all are subscribing only for Prime Video benefits.
Amongst local competition, things get murkier, as many are inflated, since they also cover indirect subscriptions, purchased through partners such as telecom operators and the like. Eros Now claims to have over 26.2 million paid subscribers, but there's no word on direct subscriptions. As of last September, SonyLIV claimed to have 70–80 million monthly active users, with 20–25 percent paid subscribers, which would put it in the range of 14–20 million paid subscribers. Again, there's no word on how many of these are directly paid.
When it last reported, ALTBalaji had 5.1 million paid subscribers, though only 1.02 million were direct subscribers. Zee5, which had 76.4 million monthly active users as of last June, said in March that it doubled its paid subscriber base thanks to the lockdown. But it didn't provide any numbers.
And Disney+ Hotstar's closest competitor by monthly active users, Voot — it crossed 100 million MAUs in January — only launched its subscription offering, Voot Select, last month. So that's a moot comparison.
Of course, the various subscription-based streaming services are catering to different Indias. Netflix is at the upper end of the English-speaking demographic, with its global slate of originals. It costs Rs. 199 a month for mobile-only, but jumps to Rs. 650 for other devices. Amazon Prime (Rs. 999 a year) and Disney+ Hotstar straddle the international and local realms. The latter offers two tiers: Rs. 399 a year for VIP (local languages-only) or Rs. 1,499 a year for Premium (English-language).
Both Eros Now and Zee5 offer access to their vast library of Bollywood movies, while the latter throws in several dozens of originals every year. ALTBalaji is only focused on originals. Eros Now will soon enter the English-speaking department, thanks to its deal with NBCUniversal. Eros Now costs Rs. 399 a year, Zee5 is Rs. 999 a year, and ALTBalaji comes in at Rs. 300 a year.
Like Disney+ Hotstar, SonyLIV does both entertainment and sports, and covers both international and local content. Voot Select kicked off its interest in international content, in addition to a bigger push with originals. Both SonyLIV and Voot Select cost Rs. 499 a year.
Can Netflix force Bollywood to reinvent itself? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS. You can also download the episode or just hit the play button below.