Disney+ Hotstar will be bidding farewell to some of its popular HBO content, such as Game of Thrones, The Last of Us, and Euphoria by the end of March 2023. Hotstar’s support team confirmed in a tweet response that HBO shows and movies will no longer be available on the streaming platform from March 31st, 2023.
WarnerMedia content had become an important attraction on Hotstar after the company ceased HBO cable TV channels in India in 2020. Meanwhile, Disney’s own material, including Marvel and Star Wars content, will remain available on the platform.
According to the tweet response, viewers can continue to enjoy Disney+ Hotstar’s broad collection of content in ten languages, which spans over 100,000 hours of TV shows, movies, and coverage of global sporting events.
As per a report from last month, this move aligns with the restructuring and cost-cutting strategies announced by Disney CEO Bob Iger, which included the layoff of 7,000 employees.
The licensing agreement between the two parties was first established in late 2015 when the platform was still named ‘Hotstar.’
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This agreement brought HBO content to the streaming service, and Game of Thrones, in particular, was a major hit that started streaming on Hotstar in India immediately after its US airing.
Disney+ Hotstar’s traffic was heavily influenced by the Indian Premier League (IPL), which was a significant draw for the platform. However, when Viacom18 obtained the digital streaming rights for the next five years, the IPL’s streaming on Hotstar suffered a major setback. Despite this, Disney Star retains the TV broadcast rights for the IPL.
Furthermore, Hotstar did not renew the streaming rights for Formula 1 in 2023, and this content was moved to F1 TV Pro. Nevertheless, other sports content such as the Premier League, the Indian Super League, and select international cricket matches remain available for streaming.
There were indications of internal restructuring occurring even before the initial report. Typically, all HBO shows are expected to be available on Disney+ Hotstar in India. However, when The Last of Us premiered worldwide on January 15, the company did not advertise or promote it on the platform.
Even the PR and support teams were uncertain about whether the series would be available in India. On January 16, the pilot was unexpectedly released without prior announcement, surprising fans. The series has since adhered to a strict weekly schedule, with episode 5 being released two days early to avoid clashing with Super Bowl LVII.
With the fourth and final season of Succession set to debut on Disney+ Hotstar on March 26, it remains to be seen how the company will handle the situation. They could either release episode 1 and then remove all HBO content or avoid premiering the pilot altogether.
Nevertheless, if you’re a fan of The Last of Us, The White Lotus, or any other HBO show, it’s a good time to catch up since there’s no confirmation yet about where HBO content will be available. Industry analysts suggest Amazon Prime Video is a potential candidate, where it could be bundled with its usual content or provided as a separate subscription-based paid channel, similar to AMC+.