Just over a month from now, the Indian Premier League (IPL), the most popular cricket tournament in the world, will begin phase two of its 2021 season. The six-week tournament was halted midway through April as a deadly second wave of Covid-19 ripped through India. The carnival begins again on 19 September, and Disney+ Hotstar is preparing for it in full-swing.

The Ken has learnt that the official streaming partner for the IPL in India expects to make nearly Rs 750 crore (~US$100 million) in ad sales from the 2021 season. That’s about the same amount it raked in from IPL 2020, its first Covid-affected season, and 3X of what the industry estimated estimated Exchange4media IPL 2020: Disney-Star India estimated to have crossed Rs 2,600 crore in revenue Read more it would earn. Combined with television ad sales, Disney+ Hotstar’s parent The Walt Disney Company generated a whopping Rs 3,000 crore (US$404 million) from IPL 2020, a highly-placed source claims. Disney declined to participate in the story.

Disney+ Hotstar’s ad revenue growth curve from IPL flattened between the 2020 and 2021 seasons because of the pandemic. That said, it still expects to earn Rs 1,200-1,500 crore (US$160 million-200 million) in total ad sales in the year ended March 2021. The internal projection suggests a growth of anywhere between 23-54% compared to the Rs 974.23 crore (~US$131 million) it made in the previous year. The company had reported reported Economic Times Disney+Hotstar narrows FY20 net loss to Rs 361.8 crore Read more a net loss of Rs 361.8 crore (~US$49 million) for the year ended March 2020 in India, and a 45% jump in overall revenue to Rs 1,628 crore (~US$219 million), which includes both subscription and ad sales.

But the IPL isn’t the only thing that Disney’s energies are focused on in India. With 50% of Disney+ Hotstar’s ad revenue coming from IPL, The Ken has learnt that the company is working to reduce its dependence on cricket. It also wants to be more of a subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) platform rather than advertising video-on-demand (AVOD), where revenue is highly skewed towards ad sales. 

The company has set two ambitious goals internally in that regard:

  1. Grow its paid subscribers in India from 35 million to 50 million by 2023.
  2. Raise the current daily average watch time average watch time Average watch time The metric is used to gauge user stickiness by calculating the average of total time that each viewer spend watching videos on the platform on a daily basis of 45 minutes by 50%.

AUTHOR

Munsif Vengattil

Munsif keeps a tab on what Big Tech has been up to in India and all things OTT. He was with Reuters previously, where he wrote investigative pieces on Facebook’s content moderation operations and WhatsApp’s troubles in the run-up to India’s national elections. If you want to talk to Munsif about journalism, tech policy or his love for seekh kebabs, write to him at his first name @the-ken.com.

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