From March 31, Disney+ Hotstar will stop airing HBO shows, which means some of the hugely popular titles, from ‘Game of Thrones’ to ‘The White Lotus’ and ‘Last of Us’, will not be available to subscribers in India. The streamer made the announcement on the Twitter handle of its facilitation service, @hotstar_helps.
Coming as it does on top of the platform no longer being able to stream IPL matches, the right having gone to Jio Cinemas, it is a double whammy for its Indian users, especially since the HBO Max launch in India doesn’t seem to have progressed much. HBO Max, incidentally, is the most expensive streaming service in the US.
Media analysts suggest that this could be a fallout of Disney CEO Bob Iger’s plans to cut $5.5 billion in costs, including about $3 billion in non-sports related content.
Hotstar has been streaming HBO’s original shows since January 2016, after Disney Star (previously Star India) struck an exclusive tie-up with HBO in December 2015. These shows, particularly ‘Game of Thrones’, in fact, were an essential part of the streamer’s strategy to attract paid subscribers in India.
The service was rebranded as Disney+ Hotstar in April 2020 after Disney’s $71.3-billion global acquisition of 21st Century Fox, which owned Star India.
In the words of @hotstar_helps, “You can continue enjoying Disney+ Hotstar’s vast library of content spanning over 100,000 hours of TV Shows and Movies in 10 languages and coverage of major global sporting events.” Will that be a big-enough hook for India subscribers, minus the IPL and HBO Max content?