Up until last year, Amazon Prime and Netflix were still playing catch-up in the Indian market. Now, the coronavirus pandemic seems to have accelerated the often-seen scenario of international players pushing out local pioneers. According to JustWatch, Netflix and Amazon Prime captured a fifth of the market each in Q2 of 2020, while the cooperation of Disney+ and local player Hotstar reached 17 percent. As recently as 2019, Hotstar alone still had a market share of almost 30 percent while Amazon Prime and Netflix captured only 10 and 5 percent of the Indian market, respectively.
The Indian small screen has also been attracting attention during the COVID-19 pandemic as a place where new Bollywood productions have been released – either as original material or as a last resort while cinemas remain shuttered. According to the BBC, Netflix has released 18 Indian-made originals this year, while Amazon Prime is looking at bringing out 14 in 2020. Disney+ Hotstar, in a different approach, has said it would host seven movies that were originally headed for the big screen.
Despite the newfound dominance of international players, the Indian streaming market remains fragmented, with a slew of local brands still taking up nearly half of the market.
The new Disney+ Hotstar service stands out as a brand which combines Disney’s global streaming endeavor with Hotstar’s Indian programming and cricket league broadcasting rights. Hotstar’s parent company, Star India, has actually been owned by Disney since 2019, when Disney purchased 21st Century Fox. Hotstar streaming was launched in India in 2015, around a year before Netflix and Amazon Prime dropped their services.