With original content becoming critical to attracting viewers to OTT platforms, digital and mobile entertainment platform Hotstar has launched Hotstar Specials, a line-up of shows directed by notable filmmakers in India.
Hotstar Specials, which was announced on Monday, will feature works by Shekhar Kapur, Sudhir Mishra, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Nagesh Kukunoor and Mahesh Manjrekar. The shows will be available in seven languages.
Monday’s launch is just the beginning, according to Star India managing director Sanjay Gupta (pictured above). Speaking to Fortune India, Gupta emphasised the company’s focus on creating content that challenges conventions and on building innovative technology solutions in-house for growth.
“Besides being a good storyteller, you need to be a great technology company, too. I think we have an advantage because we are good storytellers and now we are focussing on technology,” Gupta said, adding that today, Star India has more engineers than storytellers, perhaps for the first time ever.
With competition rising, Hotstar’s in-house technology will prove to be a big advantage, said Gupta. “The ‘Watch and Play’ game that we ran along with the last IPL (Indian Premier League) was possible because it was our own code, written in-house,” Gupta explained.
Gupta said the company will continue to focus on innovations in terms of new viewing experiences using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) especially for sports content.
Gupta said that Hotstar will replacing the traditional TV channels Star has to offer completely. “We took Hotstar to the U.S. last year with the IPL and then to Europe with the Champions Trophy. In the U.S., we have stopped Star’s linear channels fully. We thought that Hotstar should be the only handshake with our U.S. consumers,” he said, adding that the switch from TV channels to Hotstar in the U.S. was made on January 4 of this year.
Gupta said that other regions will soon follow suit with Hotstar replacing regular TV channels being offered by Star India. “We are in the process of rolling out Hotstar globally. By the end of this year we should be in every part of the world.”
When asked about how the acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Walt Disney will impact Star India’s operations, Gupta said more meaningful discussions with Disney will only happen once the deal is final and completed.