Kevin Mayer, Disney’s head of direct-to-consumer division, on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, USA. (Pic Source: Reuters)
During his career at Disney, Mayer was instrumental in facilitating a number of strategic acquisitions, including the acquisition of 21st Century Fox.
Last Updated: May 19, 2020, 11:48 AM IST
Long-time Disney’s head of streaming Kevin Mayer is going to be the CEO of short-video making platform TikTok and chief operating officer of ByteDance which is the owner of TikTok. Alex Zhu, the current President of TikTok, will transition to ByteDance VP of Product and Strategy, where he will focus on his primary passion overseeing strategy and product design, ByteDance said in a statement late Monday.
Mayer led Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer and International segment since its founding in 2018 and oversaw the successful launches of ESPN+ and Disney+ and the integration of Hulu. During his career at Disney, Mayer was instrumental in facilitating a number of strategic acquisitions, including the acquisition of 21st Century Fox. Mayer will now report directly to ByteDance Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Yiming Zhang, and will be charged with driving the global development of ByteDance, as well as overseeing corporate functions including corporate development, sales, marketing, public affairs, security, moderation, and legal.
In his role as COO, he will lead music, gaming, Helo, emerging businesses, and will serve as CEO of TikTok, leading the rapidly growing platform as it continues to build its global community of creators, users, and brands. TikTok’s popularity has surged in Covid-19 times worldwide. “As one of the world’s most accomplished entertainment executives, Mayer is incredibly well placed to take ByteDance’s portfolio of products to the next level. I look forward to working very closely with Mayer on our global development and the next chapter of the ByteDance story,” said Zhang. Mayer said he is thrilled to have the opportunity to join the amazing team at ByteDance.
“I’ve been impressed watching the company build something incredibly rare in TikTok – a creative, positive online global community – and I’m excited to help lead the next phase of ByteDance’s journey as the company continues to expand its breadth of products across every region of the world,” he noted. Founded in 2012, ByteDance has more than a dozen products, including TikTok, Helo, and Resso, as well as platforms specific to the China market, including Toutiao, Douyin, and Xigua.
Mayer’s role at Disney will be taken over by Rebecca Campbell, who has been named chairman of Disney’s direct-to-consumer efforts. Disney also announced that Josh D’Amaro would become chairman of Disney’s parks, experiences, and products.
If you have eagerly been waiting for Disney+ content in India, the wait is finally over. Hotstar will finally bring Disney+ for Indian users on April 3, and the company is going to charge extra. Disney+ Hotstar VIP will cost Rs 399 per year which is up from Rs 365. Disney+ Hotstar Premium will now cost Rs 1,499 per year up from Rs 999. You would need the Premium subscription if you want access to Disney+ original content such as the Star Wars spinoff ‘The Mandalorian’ or all the movies under Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Disney.
To make the launch special, Disney+ Hotstar will showcase The Lion King live-action remake at 6PM on April 2, followed by The Mandalorian at 8PM. The special virtual red carpet will allow users to interact with other Disney+ Hotstar users by letting them share messages, photos, and badges.
“With the success of Hotstar, we ushered in a new era for premium video streaming in India. Today, as we unveil Disney+ Hotstar, we take yet another momentous step in staying committed to our promise of delivering high-quality impactful stories for India that have not only entertained but also made a difference in people’s lives, a promise that is even more meaningful in challenging times such as this. We hope the power of Disney’s storytelling, delivered through Hotstar’s technology, will help our viewers find moments of comfort, happiness and inspiration during these difficult times,” Disney APAC president and Star & Disney India chairman, Uday Shankar, said in a statement.
Also Read: Disney+ Hotstar is Now Live in India Much Before Schedule And We Are Not Complaining
Disney+ was supposed to launch in India on March 29 however the company had accidentally released the new content around March 10. The company took a day before it reverted back and said that the rollout was part of beta testing.
Direct to home (DTH) services are becoming smarter than ever before. D2h, the Dish tv owned service provider, has announced a new smart set top box (STB) called d2h Stream. This runs Google’s Android TV smart TV platform and offers access to Live TV channels available on the d2h platform as well as access to video streaming apps including Watcho, Amazon Prime Video, Zee5, Voot, ALTBalaji, YouTube and more. The d2h Stream HD STB is priced at Rs 3,999 for new subscribers and Rs 2,499 for existing users who want to upgrade. D2h says the Stream with Android TV 9.0 has built-in Google Assistant and Chromecast support, and also supports the Dolby audio formats. You will also get access to the Google Play Store which will allow users to download more apps. The d2h Stream’s remote allows direct access to Amazon Alexa virtual assistant, which allows you to use voice commands to control certain functionality of the STB.
D2h have also launched a d2h Magic voice enabled add-on kit for existing d2h subscribers. This can simply be plugged in to a d2h V7000 HDW RF STB and adds Wi-Fi, allows access to video streaming apps and has the Alexa assistant built in. That means you can set up what in the world of Alexa is known as skills for accessing functionality of third-party apps and also use voice commands to discover and play content, get the news updates, check sports scores and more. The d2h Magic stick is priced at Rs 1,199.
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With these new additions to the STB and add-ons line-up, d2h is now taking on Tata Sky and Airtel Digital TV head-on. Tata Sky recently launched the Binge Plus Android TV STB. It also offers a voice activated remote that can be used to make Google Assistant searches and queries. The Binge Plus set-top box offers Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, Sun NXT, Eros Now, Zee5 and Hungama Play, with support for Netflix expected soon. It also includes a modular ‘Catch-up’ mode, which seemingly allows users to view live TV programming content of up to seven days earlier. It also comes bundled with Tata Sky’s Binge subscription service which offers bundled access to all the streaming platforms, along with access to Tata Sky’s video on demand library of TV shows and movies, as well as the ability to view TV content from the previous seven days. Users upgrading to the Binge Plus set-top box will get the first month of Binge free, and be charged Rs 249 per month after that.
Airtel also has the Xstream STB line-up. Airtel Xstream Box for DTH connections is offer the traditional TV broadcast channels as well as over the top (OTT) video streaming services including Amazon Video, Hotstar, Zee5, Jio Cinema and Netflix. The Xstream Box is 4K capable, which means streaming content that is offered in 4K will be readily available in that resolution for you. The Airtel Xstream box runs Android means you get access to pretty much every app that is built for the platform, with the Google Play Store which offers more than 5000 apps. The other Android functionalities, such as Assistant voice search and Chromecast are also available on this STB. The Airtel Xstream Box has 2GB of RAM as well as 8GB of internal storage. There is also a USB 2.0 port and a slot for a memory card up to 128GB in size. There is the HDMI 2.0 port which enables the 4K resolution support with compatible TVs. The Airtel Xstream Box supports the 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi networks and works with all broadband networks.
Depending on which plan you pick, Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone are bundling subscriptions for Amazon Prime, Netflix, Zee5 and even their own content-rich streaming apps.
A recent Ovum-Amdocs report on the state of OTT services in India suggested that as many as 50% of users are willing to pay for premium media services via their carrier bill if offered at a discount or with an extended free trial. Cellcos are tripping over themselves to bundle Netflix, Amazon Video, Zee5 and more with your bill plan or prepaid recharge.
Last Updated: February 26, 2020, 12:43 PM IST
Time to Netflix and chill? It turns out, you may not have to pay even a single rupee for subscriptions to video streaming services if you play your cards right. Actually, play your postpaid mobile bill plan or prepaid mobile recharge properly, and you could save a lot of money in the process. And yet not compromise even one bit on the entertainment portfolio. That is because Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone are bundling subscriptions for video streaming platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Zee5 and more with the postpaid bill plans as well as prepaid recharge packs. You might want to pay attention to this and reconfigure your prepaid or postpaid plan to get the best value.
Here is how much you will save, if you get the bundled subscriptions for video streaming platforms with your mobile prepaid and postpaid plans. The Hotstar VIP subscription costs Rs 365 per year while the Hotstar Premium subscription costs Rs 299 per month or Rs 999 per year. Amazon charges Rs 129 per month or Rs 999 per year for the Prime subscription that also includes Amazon Video. Netflix subscription options start at Rs 499 per month for the basic HD subscription going all the way up to Rs 799 per month for the 4K HDR plan—though you have a mobile only plan for Rs 199 per month but that’s just too limiting anyway. Sony Liv charges Rs 499 per year for the premium pack, while Zee5 will cost Rs 999 per year for the All Access Pack. Now that would be a lot of money saved, wouldn’t it?
This is what you mobile plan can get you
Let us give you a snapshot of what is available with each mobile connection, be it prepaid or postpaid. If you have a Reliance Jio subscription, with any prepaid and postpaid plan for the Jio mobile service, you get bundled subscription for a complete range of apps that include Jio TV and Jio Cinema. That is a lot of content to consume, including Live TV which no rival does as well, though Airtel comes close. Speaking of which, Airtel is bundling the Amazon Prime subscription for a year which includes the Prime Video streaming platform, Zee5 and the Airtel Xstream premium video streaming app as part of the Airtel Thanks rewards for postpaid users. Interestingly enough, the Airtel Prime subscription option is available only on the Rs 249 prepaid recharge pack. Vodafone offers subscription to Amazon Prime as well as Vodafone Play and Zee5 platforms with all postpaid plans above Rs 499. The Vodafone REDX premium postpaid plan which costs Rs 999 per month gets the additional benefit of Netflix bundle as well along with a lot of other benefits. All Vodafone prepaid plans bundle Vodafone Play and Zee5 subscriptions.
Reliance Jio: Jio TV and Jio Cinema offer a world of entertainment
Let us start with Reliance Jio first. The Jio TV app is available for Android and iOS platforms, and is perhaps your best choice if you want to watch Live TV without actually needing a DTH or cable TV subscription—there are more than 500 Live channels on board, which includes more than 60 HD channels. As we said before, no other Live TV app in India comes close to the sort of variety and extensive channel options that Jio TV offers. Be it English or Hindi entertainment, news, Live sports, infotainment, music and more, all possible channels covering almost all Indian languages are available—Colors, Star Plus, Sony, Zee TV, &TV, Star Gold, Sony Max, Zee Cinema, Star Movies, HBO HD, Star Sports channels in HD, Sony sports channels in HD, Discovery HD World as well as some value-adds such as the Jio Sports channels. Watching Live sports, including cricket matches, just becomes incredibly more convenient than having to jump from app to app. And that is before we get to the Jio Cinema app—this has an extensive library of Movies and TV shows, including the exclusive Disney content that includes Star Wars, Iron Man and Avengers franchises. Jio Cinema is available for Android, iOS, Android TV and the Amazon Fire TV Stick platforms.
India likes the convenience
A recent Ovum-Amdocs report on the state of OTT services in India suggested that 47% subscribers less likely to switch service providers if they get their preferred OTT streaming services. At the same time, 30% of respondents would not mind switching to another operator if their current operator doesn’t offer their preferred streaming subscriptions. In India, the biggest video streaming services include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, Sony Liv, Voot, Zee 5 and Eros Now. The report also suggests that as many as 50% of users are willing to pay for premium media services via their carrier bill if offered at a discount or with an extended free trial. The report did throw up a rather interesting set of statistics. It turns out that Sony Liv gets 50% of its total subscriptions from bundles with mobile, broadband or TV bills. That is the most for any streaming service in India, with Voot in second with 38% while Zee5 follows at 34%. Amazon Prime, which includes the Amazon Prime Video streaming service, gets 25% of its total subscriptions from media bundles—though it is quite commonly found in tariff plans offered by Airtel and Vodafone Idea. For some reason, the survey calculates Amazon Prime’s conversion separately at 15%, but it would be prudent to add the 25% and 15% together under one umbrella. Netflix gets just 19% of its subscribers from media bundles.
Airtel: Are you on prepaid or postpaid?
If you are an Airtel subscriber, postpaid plans have the better bundles—these plans are priced upwards of Rs 499. You get a one-year subscription for Prime Video streaming platform as well as access to premium content on Zee5 and the Airtel Xstream premium video streaming app. In fact, the Airtel Xstream app has more than 10,000 movies on board, TV shows as well as content from a variety of platforms under one roof—these include ZEE5, Hungama, Eros Now, HOOQ, ShareIt, YouTube, ShemarooMe, Ultra, Curiosity Stream. Airtel Xstream app also has Live TV including HD channels. You can access the Airtel Xstream app on Android as well as iOS devices. Airtel prepaid plans which start at Rs 129 for 28-days validity offer Airtel Xstream subscriptions, though only the Rs 349 plan with 28-days validity also bundles the Amazon Prime subscription.
Vodafone: The Vodafone REDX gets it all
For Vodafone, if you are a prepaid subscriber, you will get the Vodafone Play subscription as well as premium content from Zee5 with all unlimited recharge packs. The Vodafone Play app gives you access to more than 450 Live TV channels as well as more than 15,000 movies on the platform. Vodafone says the Play content includes movies and TV shows from ZEE5, SonyLIV, Lionsgate Play, Eros Now, Shemaroo Me, Hoichoi, Sun NXT, Hungama, Discovery and Yupp TV. Now that’s out of the way, let us look at the slight complexity that the postpaid plans offer. The entry spec Rs 399 Vodafone RED plan also only offers Vodafone Play and premium Zee5 content. But for the Vodafone RED plan Rs 499 and more, there is the additional sweetener of the Amazon Prime subscription worth Rs 999. However, the flagship Vodafone REDX plan which costs Rs 999 per month gets you one year of Netflix subscription worth Rs 5,998 per year as well, among other advantages such as complimentary international roaming packs and airport lounge access.
Netflix is perhaps feeling the heat of the upcoming launch of the Disney Plus, or Disney+, video streaming service in India. Not soon after Netflix had taken away the sweetener of offering the first month free for new subscribers, the streaming giant is offering a new plan to select new subscribers in India—the first month at Rs 5, before switching to the regular subscription from the second month onwards. This offer is only available as an introductory offer to select new subscribers, and not for existing users or anyone who is signing up again for a Netflix subscription. You can just hope you are lucky enough.
Netflix currently offers four subscription plans in India. The mobile-only plan is priced at Rs 199 per month, the standard definition (SD) single-screen plan costs Rs 499 per month, the High Definition plan which lets you stream on two screens costs Rs 649 per month while the top-tier Ultra HD 4K four screen plan costs Rs 799 per month.
In India, Netflix competes with the likes of Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, Zee5, Sony Liv and Voot. Hotstar will be launching the Disney+ content on March 29. At this time, it is not clear how Hotstar will offer the Disney+ content to its existing Hotstar VIP subscriptions (Rs 365 per year) and Hotstar Premium subscriptions (Rs 299 per month or Rs 999 per year). At Rs 365 for an entire year, the Hotstar VIP subscription plan is among the most inexpensive annual subscription plan among all streaming services in India. For instance, Amazon charges Rs 129 per month or Rs 999 per year for the Prime subscription that also includes Amazon Video. Netflix subscription options start at Rs 500 per month and there is no annual subscription option. Among the Indian streaming services that also let you stream some Live TV channels as Hotstar also does, Sony Liv charges Rs 499 per year for the premium pack, while Zee5 will cost Rs 999 per year for the All Access Pack.
ALSO READ | Indians Pay More For Mobile & Broadband, if Subscriptions For Netflix And More Are Bundled
Hotstar VIP subscription will include live sports streaming on the platform, as well as access to all Hotstar Specials, the platform’s original content such as the Roar of The Lion featuring MS Dhoni and all of Star India’s local language content. The sports streaming includes all cricket matches that Hotstar has the rights to stream, including the Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 cricket tournament, as well as the English Premier League football and Formula 1. The Star India content will include programs from channels including Star Plus, Life OK, Star Bharat, and Star Utsav. At the moment, Hotstar VIP is only available as an annual subscription pack, though we could get a monthly subscription option too at some point. But the annual lock-in period perhaps dictates that you make your selection wisely between paying for Hotstar VIP or Hotstar Premium, the latter being the top-tier subscription option. What is not included in the Hotstar VIP subscription is the international content, such as the shows from HBO original programming, Showtime, ABC Studios and streaming service Hooq. If you wish to access the international movies and TV shows as well, you will need to subscribe to the Hotstar Premium subscription, priced at Rs 299 per month or Rs 999 if you wish to pay in one go for a year.
High-profile Square Enix release “Marvel’s Avengers,” the result of a partnership agreement between the video game publisher and Disney’s Marvel Studios, is to spend another four months in development. The single-player and online multi-player action-adventure is being made at “Tomb Raider” reboot studio Crystal Dynamics and features superhero characters popularized through Marvel’s Cinematic Universe franchise, though actors’ likenesses are not being used.
Instead of releasing on May 10, 2020, “Marvel’s Avengers” is now expected on its original platforms, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC as well as Google’s cloud gaming service Stadia, on September 4. In a new post to its website, Crystal Dynamics’ leads explained that doing so enables them to achieve the goal of delivering “the ultimate Avengers gaming experience.” “We will spend this additional development time focusing on fine-tuning and polishing the game to the high standards our fans expect and deserve.”
“Marvel’s Avengers” was first shown early on in 2017 and then, at the 2019 Electronic Entertainment Expo, subject to a longer trailer, a May 2020 release date, and a private playable demo that was generally well-received, especially in contrast to earlier reactions. The revised timing places “Marvel’s Avengers” much closer to the intended Holiday 2020 launches of the new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X game consoles.
Moving the game out of its initial May window means greater opportunity for another attention-grabbing action franchise adaptation, “Fast & Furious Crossroads,” due May 9 on PS4, XBO and PC. Another single or online multiplayer action game which likewise leverages an established franchise, “Minecraft Dungeons,” is due sometime in April.
Alongside the “Avengers” announcement, a second Square Enix title was also subject to a release date adjustment: the PlayStation 4’s “Final Fantasy VII,” previously expected in March, is now set for April instead.