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Corona hits Disney+, streaming service launch delayed in India

The official rollout of the service was slated to happen on March 29.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Mar 20, 2020, 03.48 PM IST
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AP
Disney allegedly began to test the service with a small group of subscribers after announcing that it will launch Disney+ in India on March 29.
Disney allegedly began to test the service with a small group of subscribers after announcing that it will launch Disney+ in India on March 29.
The Walt Disney Co. said on Friday that will put on hold the launch of its streaming service Disney+ in India over the outbreak of the coronavirus. The official rollout of the service was slated to happen on March 29, coinciding with the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Disney-owned Hotstar holds the streaming rights for the two-month long league, which is a big draw with Indian audiences.

New titles from the Disney stable are likely to be launched in India through the new service, which will be rolled out in conjunction with Hotstar. Disney did not specify a new launch date, but insisted that the rollout was only “briefly paused.” The company had organized a press conference in Mumbai on March 13, only to call it off at the last moment due to the public health crisis.

Disney+, in international markets, has a catalogue comprising of content produced by the studio, whereas in India, Hotstar can be used to stream live television and sports, in addition to movies and television shows.

In 2019, some 18.6 million users concurrently tuned into Hotstar’s website and mobile app to watch the final of the 12th edition of the IPL, highlighting the tournament’s importance to the broadcaster. Disney-owned Hotstar, which competes with Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and a raft of other platforms, outdid the previous best of 10.3 million concurrent views for a live event, that was set in the previous edition of the IPL.

“We recently announced that Disney+ would launch in India through the Hotstar service in conjunction with the beginning of the Indian Premier League cricket season. Given the delay of the season, we have made the decision to briefly pause the roll-out of Disney+ and will announce a new revised premiere date for the service soon,” said Uday Shankar, President of the Walt Disney Company APAC and Chairman of Star & Disney India, in a statement.

Disney allegedly began to test the service with a small group of subscribers after announcing that it will launch Disney+ in India on March 29. The 13th season of the IPL, which was slated to begin on March 29, has been postponed to April 15. The eight-week window has previously been a lucrative time for Hotstar, with the streaming service amassing 300 million monthly active users during the tournament.

The Indian market could be a bellwether for the company’s fortunes in emerging markets. Since its rollout on November 12, 2019, Disney has garnered 28 million paying subscribers in nearly a dozen countries.

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