Disney+’s deployment in Southern Asia is going strong, as the streaming platform launched in India in April 2020, followed by Indonesia in September 2020 and more recently Singapore in February 2021. With approximately 30 million subscribers already (30% of all Disney+ subscribers worldwide), Disney surpassed its own provisions.
Different factors can explain this success. First, Disney’s strong brand image in the region definitely helped with its direct-to-consumer platform's deployment. Also, the international broadcaster chose to partner with local actors. In India for example Disney acquired Hotstar, a popular local streaming service launched in 2015, which distributes regional productions. In Indonesia, where Internet and streaming are mostly consumed on mobile, Disney+ was simultaneously launched as a standalone offer and through a partnership with telco leader Telkomsel with dedicated mobile streaming plans.
But let’s not forget about the unexpected COVID-19 effect: the number of subscribers exploded in Autumn 2020 as the Indian Premier League season started, India’s most-watched and followed cricket competition. Due to sanitary regulations, games were only available on Disney+ Hotstar live sports channels. Those channels are included in Disney+ Hotstar’s most affordable offer which comes with a mandatory 1-year-contract clause.
Thanks to a strong local strategy and favourable environmental circumstances, Disney+ quickly became a streaming leader in the region. However, those unanticipated results could also result in a significant increase in subscription prices to match unpredicted high operational costs. Future will tell how this could impact the streaming market and Disney+’s leading position.
Nevertheless we predict another year of success in Southeast Asia for Disney+, which plans to launch further in Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines by the end of the year. 2021 will also be the year of Raya and the Last Dragon's release, Disney’s latest animated feature, which celebrates Disney’s first Southeast Asian princess and which should give an additional impulse to the platform's expansion.