Elemental helps Hotstar get its video right for India’s phones, WiFi

It’s been a while since Amazon owned US encoder firm Elemental released any new customers, but this week said it is behind the video at Hotstar, one of India’s largest premium streaming platforms – which is coincidentally owned by 21st Century Fox, the same group that controls Sky, one of Elementa’s bigger design wins.

India is very much a mobile video market, with just 22 million broadband lines for over 1 billion people, but over 1 billion mobile phones. Hotstar is using Elemental Live to ensure a premium viewing experience on both mobile networks and WiFi internet connections. WiFi connections in India tend to be entire villages rather than individual homes, and there are aggressive fiber build outs, designed to bring entire communities online through shared WiFi, where there is an insufficient cellular footprint.

Hotstar is one of India’s largest premium streaming platforms, and has seen over 175 million downloads since it began in January 2015. It offers 25,000 hours of sports, TV series and movies in eight languages and was named Apple TV’s App of the Year 2016 for India.

Because of its relationship to Star of India, owned by 21st Century Fox, it has access to key sports entertainment – India is Cricket mad and it has the India Premier League cricket TV rights. It also re-broadcasts English Premier League football and features premier entertainment content, such as Game of Thrones and The Sopranos.

In January 2017 Hotstar also signed a multi-year SVoD deal with Disney India, extending its Hotstar Premium offering to include exclusive content from Disney, Marvel and ABC channels in the US.

Faultline Online Reporter has reported that Netflix India is being overshadowed by such regional rivals as YuppTV, Hooq, and of course Hotstar, partially due to Netflix having a lack of content in native languages, or content that is reflective of local cultures. In these markets, it’s not as simple as offering House of Cards with subtitles and hoping it will have the same resounding success that was achieved in North America and Europe.