Hotstar has around 8 million paying subscribers in India, its owner Disney revealed. This is significant, as Hotstar, now rebranded as Disney+ Hotstar, has never revealed how many paying subscribers it has in India, choosing instead to reveal total viewer counts — the service’s ad-supported tier has several more takers. 

Hotstar Premium was launched in April 2016, and the cheaper VIP tier was launched in 2019. The 8 million count includes VIP users, who pay less than Rs 400 per year (which is less than the monthly price for Disney+ in other countries). All in all, Hotstar tells advertisers that it has 300 million monthly users, which would make paying subscribers under 3% of its user base.

Disney+ now has more than 50 million subscribers (disney hotstar app) globally, per Disney’s announcements, including the 8 million Disney+ Hotstar subscribers in India. 

Disney has been pushing for a form of self-regulation of streaming services in India that would require streaming services to submit to the authority of a Digital Content Complaints Committee, raising the spectre of self-censorship, we reported last month. Those efforts are briefly stalled as the Internet and Mobile Association of India is struggling to get enough streaming services on board to take the proposal to the government.  (disney hotstar app)

Share of subscriber revenue in overall earnings

Between April 2018 and March 2019, Hotstar made Rs 1,112 crore, almost double what it made the  (disney hotstar app)  previous financial year. If that doubling holds this year as well, the revenue for FY 2019–20 could be in the neighbourhood of Rs 2,224 crore. Out of this revenue, anywhere from around Rs 390 to Rs 700 crore could be coming from paid subscriptions, as shown above. That means that around 3% of Hotstar’s users are accounting for 17–34% of total earnings. But this also means that a comfortable majority of Hotstar’s revenue still comes from the free ad-supported tier.

For comparison, Media Partners Asia estimates that Netflix India could have upwards of 2 million   (disney hotstar app) subscribers. Based on that revenue, and assuming that 20% of users are on the mobile-only plan, Netflix could be making over ₹1000 crores a year, half  of Hotstar’s total revenue, and not too far away from the Disney-owned service’s paid subscriber revenue.