HBO content such as Game of Thrones, The Last of Us, and Euphoria will be leaving Disney+ Hotstar by the end of March 2023. Replying to a tweet, Hotstar’s support team confirmed that starting March 31, HBO shows and movies will not be available to watch on the streaming platform, which has been the key destination for Indians to access the WarnerMedia content after the company discontinued HBO cable TV channels in the country in 2020. Of course, all Disney material, which includes Marvel and Star Wars content, will remain on the platform.
“Starting 31st March, HBO content will be unavailable on Disney+ Hotstar. You can continue enjoying Disney+ Hotstar’s vast library of content spanning over 100,000 hours of TV Shows and Movies in 10 languages and coverage of major global sporting events,” the tweet reads. A report from last month suggested that the shake-up is in line with some restructuring and cost-cutting plans returning Disney CEO Bob Iger announced, which included the layoffs of 7,000 workers. The original licensing deal between the two parties was signed back in late 2015 — when the platform was simply called ‘Hotstar’ — which brought over HBO content to the streaming service. At the time, Game of Thrones was a huge draw, which began streaming on Hotstar in India immediately after it finished airing in the US.
Starting 31st March, HBO content will be unavailable on Disney+ Hotstar. You can continue enjoying Disney+ Hotstar’s vast library of content spanning over 100,000 hours of TV Shows and Movies in 10 languages and coverage of major global sporting events.
— Disney+HS_helps (@hotstar_helps) March 7, 2023
The Indian Premier League (IPL) was another major source of traffic for Disney+ Hotstar, but took a big hit when Viacom18 bagged the digital streaming rights for it — for the next five years. Disney Star still holds the TV broadcast rights for it, though.
Additionally, Hotstar also did not renew the streaming rights for Formula 1 in 2023, with that content moving over to F1 TV Pro. That said, other sports content such as the Premier League, the Indian Super League, and select international cricket matches are still available to stream.
There were signs of some internal shake-up happening, long before the initial report. Normally, it is understood that in India, all HBO shows would appear on Disney+ Hotstar. However, when The Last of Us was gearing up for its premiere on January 15 around the world, the company never put up any banners or advertisements for the same, while the PR and support teams were still unsure of whether the series will be coming to India, after all. On January 16, however, the pilot just dropped with no prior announcement, to the surprise of fans, and has been strictly following a weekly schedule — save for episode 5, which was brought forward by two days to avoid clashing with the Super Bowl LVII event.
With Succession’s fourth and final season poised to drop on Disney+ Hotstar on March 26, it will be interesting to see how the company handles it. They could either release episode 1 and then shut down all HBO content, or avoid premiering the pilot altogether. Nevertheless, if you still haven’t caught up on the current fan-favourite The Last of Us series, The White Lotus, or any other HBO show, now would be a good time, since as of now, there is no solid confirmation for where the HBO content will end up. Industry analysts suggest Amazon Prime Video is a good candidate, where it could be packaged along with its usual content or provided as a separate subscription-based paid channel — akin to AMC+.
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