The Great Indian Video Battle: Hotstar Ahead of Amazon, Netflix

Video streaming platforms in India are gearing up to meet the rising demand for on-the-go content. 

Tech News
3 min read

Netflix has a long way to go in India before it can hope of catching up to Amazon Prime Video and Hotstar.

The US-based video platform apparently has 5 million users in the country, which pales in front of the 11 million that Amazon has signed up on its network and the 75 million that Hotstar has managed to get on board till now, according to a report published by research analyst firm Counterpoint.


It’s not surprising to see that Hotstar (owned by Star India) carries more users on its network, which offers free as well as subscriber-based premium content. Amazon, on the other hand, has relied on its pocket-friendly yearly plan of Rs 499 (now revised to Rs 999) that has helped them add more consumers paying for the service.

Netflix, on the other hand, only operates in the premium segment, charging Rs 650 per month for its high-definition service that can be viewed by two devices.

Video streaming platforms in India are gearing up to meet the rising demand for on-the-go content. 
Numbers give you a clear picture. (Correction: Voot claims to have 22 million monthly active users, the above table has been revised to reflect the same)
(Photo Courtesy: Counterpoint)
The Indian video streaming market is valued at $280 million, with over 100 million subscribers already active on multiple platforms. 

The proliferation of 4G-enabled mobiles, along with cheap data rates, have played a big role in customers moving away from traditional TVs to mobile-based streaming content.

In addition to that, you’ve got majority of users still vary of spending on these platforms, especially when apps like Hotstar and Voot cater to most of the mainstream TV channels.


What Works for Video Streaming:

  • Web series
  • Stand-up comedy
  • Live sports streaming (for free and paid users)
  • Quicktime access to global content like House of Cards, Game of Thrones
The majority of Indian audiences are still stuck to the free or ad-supported model as of now. Several options, including web-series, stand-up comedies, etc, are already available on YouTube free of cost.  
Hanish Bhatia, senior analyst, Counterpoint

Show Me the Money

But like every digital entity, they’re here to make money, which, as Hanish points out, isn't something that most Indian mobile users are doing right now. A recent Akamai report highlights that on an average, Indian users spend 12.3 hours in a week watching online content.

And while Hotstar has 75 million users on its platform, very few people have felt the need to pay for its premium service. These statistics change for Amazon and Netflix, which have managed to get 100 percent and 6 percent of its users to pay.

Video streaming platforms in India are gearing up to meet the rising demand for on-the-go content. 
Everyone on Amazon Prime pays for its video service. 
(Photo: The Quint/Canva)

But, you can’t discount the fact that both Hotstar and Voot have better advertising revenue to bank upon, which evens out the ground between their global peers.

Hotstar was also quick to grab the broadcasting rights for ‘Game of Thrones’ earlier this year, when the globally-acclaimed TV show made headlines among the young audience of India. Meanwhile, Voot is also gaining traction recently through popular TV shows such as Bigg Boss, MTV Unplugged, Roadies, Splitsvilla, etc.
Hanish Bhatia, Senior Analyst, Counterpoint
IPL live streaming on Hotstar garners over 2.8 million concurrent users, and its growing EPL following could add a few more million users in 2018.

Round 2: Which App is Better

Now, considering that all these platforms are mobile-centric, it is vital that app developers of these brands manage to roll out a product that is user-friendly and bug-free.

While Netflix and Amazon have kept it simple and mishap-free, the same cannot be said about Hotstar and Sony Liv. The overall user experience of both these platforms doesn’t work to a good effect, with users complaining about the app every now and then.

Amazon and Netflix have big ambitions for this space in India, and their recent round of investment in content and title partnerships with production houses could give them the much-needed armoury to rival local streaming players, who’ve already found the right mix between making money and adding users.

If Hotstar can somehow fix its glitches and keep ramping up its mix of content, then Star India could extend its lead in the video content market in the coming years.

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