The Hotstar App was released in India in 2015 amidst much fanfare. With demand for online video streaming growing every year, it was only matter of time before a leading media company designed an App specifically for India. Star India launched Hotstar with free to view content at the beginning of 2015. The launch was timed just before the Cricket World Cup 2015. Star India had the broadcast rights for the event it led to over 340 million views on Hotstar app during the World Cup.
That was just the beginning, Star India has rights to events like English Premier League, Indian Super League, Pro Kabaddi League, Hockey India League and other exclusive shows. In 2015 itself, more users saw English Premier League on Hotstar than on television channels. Even for cricket series, Hotstar has reached at par with television viewership in metropolitan cities.
Hotstar has over 40,000 hours of content in 8 different languages. Star India along with its content partners, source content from channels like – Life Ok, Star Plus, Channel V, Asianet Plus, Asianet, Star Vijay, Star Sports, Star World, HBO and Star Jaisha.
What Hotstar Offers
Hotstar is available online through its downloadable App (40 million copies downloaded within the first year) and also on its website known as Hotstar web. Much of the Hotstar content is free to view but with latest shows being offered there are charges in the premium category of Rs. 199 per month.
The App has a sleek look and does not take much space for installation. The user can browse through the main categories like TV, Movies, Sports, Music and Featured. Hotstar App has an additional feature to download content to watch offline, useful when internet connectivity is uneven or at a slower speed.
The users can rate shows as they watch them this serves multiple purposes as it gives suggestions to other viewers and also a feedback to show producers.
A palpable shift is taking place in the way people are viewing content, moving from the one-way system of conventional cable TV networks to a more user interactive and user unique system of viewing content.
Companies like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime have gained by providing streaming services outside of India, but their delayed entry into the Indian market gave space which could be filled by Hotstar.
A likely future is having fully integrated systems being offered off-the-shelf with preinstalled streaming service provider packs (already being offered along with Netflix in foreign countries).
At present Hotstar supports 9 languages, that means you can watch shows from nine languages. The app can be installed on Android, iOS and Nokia platforms. In Movies, Hindi has the biggest catalog while in Tv Shows English has the lead. Currently, Hotstar is able to run on over 7,000 different platforms types and versions. The bulk of Hotstar downloads is on iOS and Android platforms.
Download Hotstar For iOS
For iOS the installation file is available on the App Store, a simple installation procedure of entering Apple id details and clicking the install file follows after which you can open Hotstar on your iOS device. With registration, Hotstar provides the feature of remembering at what point the video was turned off so that it can be resumed from the same point.
Download Hotstar For Android
For Android installation, a simple APK file needs to be installed. The easiest way of installing Hotstar on android is through the Google Play Store.
It is recommended to install and use Hotstar on devices which have at least 1GB RAM, dual core processor and around 4 – 6 GB of free space.
Extra : Hotstar was developed by Accenture technologies for Star India and was tested by TCS.
Major Events and Shows on Hotstar
Hotstar has rights to broadcast popular show Games of Thrones and other HBO shows like Veep, Rome, Hung, Silicon Valley, Band of Brothers, The Newsroom, True Blood, True Detective and many others. These shows are not offered on competitive streaming services like Netflix.
Hotstar’s collaboration with HBO certainly makes it worth regular subscription. Also, Game of Thrones is shown uncensored and without advertisement just minutes after its US telecast whereas, Star World HD as of now has been showing censored version two days after US premiere.
Hotstar is also the official broadcaster of Rio Olympics 2016 showing all events live with Indian participation. For the event, a special web page has been launched. Hotstar has used a different player format for Olympics streaming in view to the fact that it is a live event.
Users prefer to watch original series from Star and HBO on Hotstar because it is more easily available and released sooner than normal television.
Having rights to show marquee shows in India before any other service has significantly boosted Hotstar’s subscription. Hotstar is also a platform for online exclusive digital shows like “On Air with AIB”, “Pyaar ko Kya Naam Doon?” and “Juicy Half Volley”. These shows important in terms that they have a dedicated following and also are experimental in nature.
Region Of Operation
Well, Hotstar App is only available in India, While users from around the world are always welcomed on their web interface, i.e, their website. Here is an official tweet from the company which is enough to clear any doubt.
Premium plan is only available for users in India. Though they are scaling up their region of operation and soon wider region will be covered.
Hotstar Plan | Pricing
When it comes to premium plan, nothing goes as straight as Hotstar. They give attractive offers where the first month’s subscription is given free of cost and consequent months are charged Rs 199. This charge is much lesser in comparison to Netflix where a basic plan comes with Rs 500 price tag.
It places an added advantage in subscribing to Hotstar. However, a premium subscription is required to view the latest content which requires payment through a credit card or Debit cards. Net banking facility is yet to be activated as being shown on the payment page. Much better than Netflix that accepts credit card only.
Challenges | App Glitches and Bugs
Hotstar still faces some hurdles in making its App more efficient and also the fact that Indian data speeds are still not at that level to provide seamless streaming without buffering. For users having high-speed broadband connections in India, Hotstar is yet to stream its content in proper HD format, even though such is claimed by Star India but the quality is yet to reach HD level suitable for bigger screens. It is an area that can be looked into as a special service.One glitch with the App which needs to be taken care of is that it does not have interruption management, take for example if you are watching a show on Hotstar and receive a call or message on your phone, once after attending to it you return to the App you will be taken to the home screen and will need to restart the show again.
Even though the download and offline viewing feature is a very welcome one in some cases after downloading the file it does not show in the downloads section. After which the download button is grayed out and the user cannot re-download the file.
There are some minor bugs in the App which need to be taken care of in the future versions like the loading wheel sign does not go even when the video starts to play.
Up Coming Future
Being a pioneer in the sector Hotstar has made a leadership position but the company executives have outlined how easily the service can be duplicated by other companies. In that sight, Hotstar is ready to be launched overseas with its own unique content and collaboration with other media companies.
Due to the stricter anti-piracy screening of content and revenue generation through advertisement Hotstar is certainly on its way to becoming profitable and highly subscribed service.
Platform be seen as a natural progression from conventional media entertainment. With the rapid increase of internet speeds, every year online streaming is set to overtake conventional television viewing. The benefits provided by services like Hotstar which are user choice of entertainment, downloading for offline viewing, mobile viewing and resuming play make it the next step in digital entertainment.
Hotstar has had many advantages right from the start, being an offshoot of one of the largest media entertainment networks Star India and strong collaboration with HBO has given it a strong position in the market.
Hotstar still faces challenges to provide adequate server infrastructure so that users can get smoother streaming. Although companies like Netflix have enormous following overseas and also develop their original content with exclusive releases, it is unlikely it will overtake Hotstar in the near future.