In the latest move in its heightened push to consolidate and drive subscriptions to the Disney Bundle — Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ — Disney is phasing out its Hotstar service in the U.S. and migrating that programming to Hulu and ESPN+.
Over the next year, Hotstar’s sports programming — including its most-viewed content, live cricket matches — will migrate to ESPN+, and several thousand Indian other South Asian movies and TV shows will migrate to Hulu.
The Indian Premier League (IPL), which has an estimated brand value of $6.8 billion, is the richest Twenty20 league and attracts many of the best players from around the world, reports Reuters. Its matches will stream on ESPN+ in the U.S. starting Sept. 19.
The goal is to shut down Hotstar in the U.S. by an as yet unspecified date in late 2022.
Starting Sept. 1, Hotstar U.S. subscribers who don’t currently have any other Disney streaming service will be eligible to get the Disney Bundle through the end of their Hotstar annual subscription, rounded up to the end of the month, at no additional charge.
After that, U.S. viewers who have been paying just $49.99 per year will need to pay $13.99 per month, or about $168, to get its content as part of the Disney Bundle.
U.S. Hotstar subscribers who don’t want to redeem the offer for the bundle can request a refund by Sept. 30. Hotstar U.S. customers who get one or more other Disney streaming services will automatically receive prorated refunds for the remaining time on their Hotstar annual subscriptions.
Disney has not disclosed the number of Hotstar U.S. subscribers, or specific subscriber numbers for its bundle.
Earlier this month, the company reported having doubled its total global Disney+ subscribers, to 116 million, over the past year.
Combined global subscribers for Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu totaled 173.7 million for the quarter ended July 3 — up 71% year-over-year and 9% versus this year’s prior quarter.
ESPN+ subscribers leapt 75% YoY (8% quarter-over-quarter), to 14.9 million. Hulu subscribers rose 21% YoY (3% quarter-over-quarter), to 42.8 million.
Disney did not break out the number of bundle subscribers.