Netflix has Hotstar beat during India’s coronavirus lockdown

Streaming success.
Streaming success.
Image: Dado Ruvic
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Amid India’s war on coronavirus, online binge-watching has already won.

With Indians cooped up at homes since March 25 owing to a nationwide lockdown, over-the-top (OTT) platforms have witnessed a surge in demand like never before, an April 2020 report by market intelligence platform Kalagato said.

US-based Netflix has made the biggest gains, with Indians spending 73% more time on the streaming platform, Kalagato said. They spent an average of 80 minutes on Netflix by March 29, compared to 46.4 minutes in early February.

“Juxtapose this with Hotstar, who’s experienced a 30% decline in total session time,” Kalagato’s report notes. “This could be a result of the different content libraries of the two platforms. Netflix creates the sensation of an endless well of content while Hotstar’s library feels much more limited. Netflix is built for binge-watching while the other feels more point and shoot.”

Netflix’s open rate in India also increased 68% to 8.2 times a day at the end of March versus 4.9 in early February. Those of Amazon Prime Video and Hotstar’s stood at 3.3 and 4.4, respectively.

Netflix and Amazon have witnessed a steady climb in daily active users (DAUs)—share of people with the app who are using it. The rise in traffic has burdened telcos so much that Netflix is now cutting India traffic by 25% and rival Amazon is temporarily lowering bit rates.

Meanwhile, the metric for Hotstar has taken a massive beating, dropping 55% over the two months.

“Hotstar’s performance comes across as dismal only because nothing—not even a global pandemic—can create DAU’s like cricket can,” Kalagato’s report says.

Netflix India boasts over 4,700 titles and has several acclaimed origins in its kitty and Amazon Prime Video has a vast regional movie library, and they’ve posted massive growth during the coronavirus outbreak. However, Hotstar cannot be written off just yet.

The homegrown platform hosts over 4,000 titles. And Kalagato’s data was collected before Hotstar’s Disney+ deal went live on April 3, which added over 7,000 episodes of popular TV shows and 500 films from Disney, Marvel Studios, Pixar, National Geographic, and Star Wars.