In the run up to Indian Premier League (IPL), live streaming and video-on-demand platform, Hotstar, has raised around USD 153 million (Rs 1,066 crore) from its parent companies.
Star India and Star US Holdings have invested Rs 832 crore and Rs 234 crore, respectively, in the group’s wholly owned subsidiary Novi Digital Entertainment, which runs the OTT platform. Hotstar will use the fresh capital to leverage the cricket coverage and original content.
Hotstar had earlier received Rs 516 crore from Star India in August 2018.
In March first week, Hotstar announced a tie-up with Aditya Birla Group’s Applause Entertainment to bring out five originals, dubbed Hotstar Specials. "With Hotstar Specials, we hope to create the biggest Indian stories delivered to a billion screens. To bring this vision alive, we are proud to partner with Applause Entertainment on our first set of Specials," said Sanjay Gupta, managing director, Star India, in a statement.
Launched in 2015, Hotstar takes on the likes of Amazon and Netflix in India. The OTT platform is equipped with 100,000 plus hours of content in 18 languages and covers sporting events including IPL and Formula One. Hotstar claims to have over 150 million monthly active users.
Following in the footsteps of Amazon and Netflix, Hotstar made its content available for download in January, 2019. “Now you can download and watch offline most of your favourite premium shows like Game of Thrones, Friends, Big Bang Theory and many more. Better yet, now enjoy watching the videos in your 18:9 aspect ratio screens as we now support edge-to-edge display,” the changelog mentioned.
Cheap data and high smartphone penetration are expected to boost India’s OTT market to USD 5 billion by 2023, according to analysts at Boston Consulting Group.
Star India Pvt. Ltd is upping the ante with targeted advertising during IPL 2019. Last year, 70 brands had advertised on Hotstar during the T20 campaign.
“This is the first time that we are offering targeted ads to brands. They can target custom cohorts and also deploy interest-based targeting. In the WatchN’Play social feed of the game we have introduced branded cards, which advertisers can leverage to target relevant target group," Varun Narang, chief product officer at Hotstar told Livemint.
A total of 202 million viewers watched the IPL on Hotstar in 2018. The network, which earned close to Rs 2,000 crore from IPL 2018, is expected to touch Rs 2,500 crore in ad revenue in IPL 2019, according to media buyers’ estimates.
In September 2017, Star India spent USD 2.55 billion for the worldwide IPL media rights for TV and digital broadcast for a five-year period.