Benita Chacko
OTT Streaming

Disney+ Hotstar and JioCinema to have consolidated reach of 160 million unique visitors post-merger: Comscore

Visakh Vijayakumar, sales director - India, Comscore, says the platforms will offer broader reach for advertisers with its focus on sports content.

The potential merger between Star India and Viacom18 will lead to Disney+ Hotstar and JioCinema having a consolidated reach of 160 million unique visitors (UVs), states a recent report by global media measurement and analytics company Comscore. The State of Streaming OTT Landscape in India report highlights that the ammunition in the battle between Hotstar and Jio Cinema will likely be the sporting events’ streaming rights. The potential merger will lead to a one-stop-shop for most sporting events for Indian viewers.

Visakh Vijayakumar, sales director - India, Comscore, says, both the platforms boast considerable reach, albeit fluctuating seasonally due to major sporting events. Events like the IPL and the FIFA World Cup significantly impact viewership patterns. 

“When examining the Indian OTT landscape from a macro perspective, two prominent platforms emerge: Disney+ Hotstar and JioCinema. Typically, exclusive digital or broadcasting partnerships accompany such events, leading to spikes in viewership for the platforms holding the rights, primarily Disney and JioCinema. Hotstar and JioCinema prioritise sports content, leveraging their substantial databases to attract audiences, with approximately 45 to 50 million viewers driven by non-sports content,” he says.

From an advertisers’ perspective, Sony LIV and Zee5 heavily rely on regional content, making them ideal for advertisers targeting regional audiences. The platforms have excelled in regional content, an area where Hotstar has struggled to match their success. In contrast, Disney+ Hotstar and JioCinema offer broader reach for advertisers but focus on sports content. Prime Video, while a contender, lacks a complete AVoD model, primarily advertising its own content. 

Disney+ Hotstar and JioCinema to have consolidated reach of 160 million unique visitors post-merger: Comscore

“Sony LIV and Zee5 differentiate themselves by leveraging content to attract and retain users, whereas Disney+ Hotstar and JioCinema prioritise sports, albeit at potentially higher costs. Sony LIV and Zee5 have greater control over in-house content costs compared to sports broadcasting rights, which are often determined by external entities like sports associations,” he adds.

Disney+ Hotstar and JioCinema to have consolidated reach of 160 million unique visitors post-merger: Comscore

Reliance Industries and The Walt Disney Company formally sealed a binding agreement on February 28, establishing a formidable media entity valued at Rs 70,352 crore (US $ 8.5 billion). Creating India’s largest television and digital streaming platforms, the merger will bring together the streaming platforms of both media houses.

“JioCinema brings a robust content IP including Warner Brothers and HBO, while Hotstar boasts the Disney portfolio. Together, they should offer a strong content portfolio,” Vijayakumar adds.

Disney+ Hotstar and JioCinema to have consolidated reach of 160 million unique visitors post-merger: Comscore

The report also indicates a decline in over-the-top (OTT) UVs to 460 million in January 2024, from the peak of 466 million in January 2023. This marks the first decline since 2020.

However, Vijayakumar clarifies that the apparent decline in numbers is misleading since it only reflects data for the month of January. January '23 reflects some residual traffic from the FIFA World Cup and other sporting events. When considering the annual average over 12 months, the trend shows stability or slight growth.

He attributes the slowed-down growth to its measurement system. “We measure all desktop and mobile data for users aged 18 and above, but there's likely growth among users under 18, especially with the increasing consumption of OTT content on smartphones by children. Additionally, Connected TV (CTV) is a rapidly growing platform, yet our measurements do not include CTV data, thus potentially underestimating overall growth,” he says.

Disney+ Hotstar and JioCinema to have consolidated reach of 160 million unique visitors post-merger: Comscore

With regard to gender composition, MX Player has the highest composition of male users while Zee5 has an almost even split. Vijayakumar points out that in platforms driven primarily by sports content, there tends to be a male bias in user composition. However, platforms focusing on content see a more balanced gender distribution, closer to the digital universe average of 55:45 (male to female). 

“For instance, Zee5's gender composition is 56:44, aligning closely with this average. Additionally, larger entities, reaching millions of users, tend to converge towards the digital universe average due to their extensive reach. Despite this, platforms like JioCinema and Hotstar remain male-dominated, largely due to their emphasis on sports content,” he shares.

The OTT penetration of the digital universe reached 87.8%. Vijayakumar says there is a slowdown due to the maturation of smartphone penetration in tier-two and tier-three towns. “In January, the growth in the digital universe, particularly for mobile, appears flat based on our tracking. However, when considering annual averages, there is still growth, albeit at a slower rate,” he says.

He believes the next big growth for OTT is going to come from connected TV (CTV). “CTV is poised to dominate the OTT landscape, driven by both cord-cutters and individuals who have never had traditional television connections. The number of CTV households is increasing, with many making a direct transition to CTV devices like Fire Stick dongles or similar options, even without owning a smart TV."

"The affordability of CTV has significantly improved over the past five years, with decent 32-inch TVs available for as little as Rs 10,000, often running on open-source operating systems or Google OS-based platforms. This accessibility and variety are expected to fuel the penetration of OTT,” he adds. 

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