Indian OTT streaming service Disney+ Hotstar has set a new viewership record with its broadcast of cricket’s ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 final.
The November 19 final in Ahmedabad, contested between India and Australia (the eventual winners), drew an average of 59 million concurrent viewers in the country, breaking the previous Hotstar record of 53 million which was set in the tournament’s semi-final between India and New Zealand.
The high interest in the competition is not surprising given that India is the biggest cricket-consuming market on the planet, and the high viewership on Disney+ Hotstar (the streaming service linked to linear broadcaster Star India), in particular, can likely be attributed to the platform offering games to viewers for free on mobile platforms.
The competition has seen strong viewership as a result throughout the tournament, with Hotstar’s viewership record having been broken more than once throughout the competition.
India’s pool stage match with old rivals Pakistan set a record for Hotstar at the time with 35 million viewers – that the new record stands at more than 20 million higher shows the level of local interest in a tournament that the host country had dominated up to the final.
Star has held the linear TV rights to the competition since 2014, and secured them again between 2024 and 2027, in August 2022. The broadcaster was purchased by Disney in 2018, having previously been owned by 21st Century Fox.
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Despite the massive value of these rights and the clear popularity of the product, however, there have been reports that Disney is seeming to exit the country altogether, likely owing to rival media company Viacom18 muscling in more and more on Star India’s sports rights portfolio.
Through its Jio Cinema streaming service, Viacom18, which has been mooted as a potential buyer for Hotstar, now holds domestic streaming rights to the prestigious Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket tournament, rights that Hotstar had held previously, and will now also showcase Indian national and domestic cricket matches for the next five years.