Is Flipkart planning to buy a stake in homegrown video streaming company Hotstar? If reports are to be believed, Hotstar could soon have the backing of the biggest e-commerce giant in India as it plans to enter the online video content segment to diversify its business. The fact that US content giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are making a killing in India has driven Flipkart to aggressively work out its strategy to enter the segment by way of strategic alliance or investment. The move could be significant considering the growing popularity of shows produced by these over-the-top media services providers.
Mint has quoted unidentified people, who are aware of the development, saying though talks are at an initial stage right now, the deal can give Flipkart a major push in its plans to attract more internet consumers on its platform. Notwithstanding, Flipkart has already partnered with Hotstar for the launch of a video advertising platform. Hotstar is also a part of the Flipkart Plus customer loyalty programme.
Before this, the report said Flipkart held various meetings for a strategic alliance with Netflix but failed to strike a deal. Now the company seems to be banking on Hotstar, which is owned by Novi Digital Entertainment, a wholly owned subsidiary of Star India. Hotstar currently offers over 50,000 hours of TV content and movies across 8 languages, and every major sport covered live.
Meanwhile, Flipkart has junked the report but said it remains "open to partnerships that can help grow the Internet ecosystem in India and beyond". "As flattered as we are by the rumours, the service is too valuable for such conjectures to be even entertained," the company told the newspaper.
Not just Flipkart, other Indian companies are also gearing up to cash in on this growing industry. In July, it was reported that Mukesh Ambani-led company, Reliance Jio, would set up its own production house to create original web series and short films for Jio subscribers.
Besides this, Netflix and Amazon are pouring in millions, and are partnering with telecom companies, to attract more customers. In August, Netflix announced a three-month Netflix gift subscription to select V-Fiber home broadband and postpaid users. Though the telco wants to strengthen its strategic partnership with Netflix to take on Reliance Jio's upcoming fast wired broadband service, it has created opportunities for Netflix to make inroads in the Indian content industry. Similarly, Vodafone India has also partnered with Amazon to offer free Amazon Prime Video subscription for one year on its Vodafone Red plan.