Coronavirus has felled Disney+ Hotstar. The new streaming service won’t launch on March 29 in India, as previously announced, Hotstar said Friday. This was expected, given BCCI’s decision last Friday to postpone the start of the 2020 Indian Premier League season until mid-April in the wake of growing concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic. Disney had wanted to time the launch of Disney+ in India with the start of IPL, in a bid to use the Twenty20 cricket tournament’s popularity to drive up subscriptions. With IPL pushed back, it naturally made little sense for Disney+ Hotstar to stick to that date.
In a prepared statement, Disney APAC president and Star & Disney India chairman Uday Shankar said: “We recently announced that Disney+ would launch in India through the Hotstar service in conjunction with beginning of the Indian Premier League cricket season. Given the delay of the season, we have made the decision to briefly pause the roll-out of Disney+ and will announce a new revised premiere date for the service soon.”
Shankar’s statement also confirms what Gadgets 360 first reported on Saturday, that Hotstar had paused the weekly rollout of new Disney+ content in India. Owing to that, Disney+ Hotstar is now stuck in a curious position — you can watch all the Disney+ originals released between November 2019 (original launch) and March 6 (the last Friday before its early India arrival), but anything that’s been released since on Disney+ is not available to Hotstar subscribers. With the launch pushed back, we will not see any new Disney+ content likely until IPL begins.
Disney+ Hotstar won’t arrive before April 15 in India. Given how the pandemic is raging, we could be in for a long wait.