In a bold move, Walt Disney has started showing free cricket matches in India. This time, Disney+ Hotstar is streaming the Asia Cup 2023 and ODI Cricket World Cup on mobile for free. The aim is to make money again and reconnect with old users who had left.
According to Reuters, Disney+ Hotstar had the most users last year. But after March 2022, users started leaving, causing the company to lose a huge $41.5 million. Between October and July the same year, the number of users dropped by a quarter. This put pressure on the company to become profitable again.
Disney+ Hotstar thought that people in India would still pay for their special content. But that’s not what happened. People stopped paying when there was no cricket to watch. So, Disney+ Hotstar decided to stream live cricket for free.
Disney+ Hotstar believes that around 50 million people might watch a cricket match. If this happens, it will be 56 percent more viewers than what IPL had on Mukesh Ambani’s JioCinema platform.
Back in 2019, Disney paid a huge $71 billion for parts of 21st Century Fox’s stuff. This included an Indian streaming service called Hotstar. Disney also got the rights to stream the Indian Premier League (IPL). In 2020, Disney+ Hotstar started asking people to pay to watch. They thought they could get 100 million users in a year, but it didn’t work out.
Then, last year, Mukesh Ambani kept the rights to show IPL for himself by paying $2.9 billion. He showed the cricket matches for free on Jio Cinema. This made 21 million Disney subscribers stop using Disney+ Hotstar in July.
Now, Disney only has a few options. They might team up with someone else or sell the business in India. Disney spent $3 billion to get cricket rights for 2024 and 2027. But TV rights belong to Zee, and they got those for $1.5 billion. Disney hopes to make about Rs 2 crore from ads. But it might still take a long time for them to make a profit.