Following JioCinema's strategy to stream IPL for free, Disney+ Hotstar Friday announced that the Asia Cup and ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup tournaments being held later this year, will be made available as free-to-view to all mobile phone users accessing Disney+ Hotstar.
According to FICCI E&Y report, there are more than 540 million smartphone users across India.
The move will help Disney+ Hotstar retain its falling userbase which was built largely on live cricket and IPL. The IPL digital rights were acquired by Viacom18 which offered all IPL matches on its streaming platform JioCinema for free of cost in 2023 season.
However, Disney+ Hotstar said that the move to lift the paywall for mobile-only viewers of both, the Asia Cup and the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, is aimed at further democratising the game of cricket and making it accessible to as many mobile users in India as possible for the duration of the season.
It may be recalled that Nita Ambani talked about democratising cricket immediately after acquiring IPL digital media rights.
“Disney+ Hotstar has remained at the forefront of the rapidly evolving OTT industry in India and the various innovations we have introduced to continue enhancing the viewer experience has allowed us to delight our audiences across the region. Making the Asia Cup and ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup available to a wider audience, we believe, will help us grow the overall ecosystem,” said Sajith Sivanandan, Head of Disney+ Hotstar.
Disney+ Hotstar said that it has created strong viewership momentum for cricket properties, with successful tournaments including the Asia Cup 2022, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022, and ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023.
The recently concluded India vs Sri Lanka, India vs New Zealand as well as India vs Australia tournaments also fared well, the platform said.