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Disney+ to launch in India, Southeast Asian markets next year

Disney plans to bring its on-demand video streaming service to India and some Southeast Asian markets as soon as the second half of next year, two sources familiar with the company’s plans told TechCrunch.

In India, the company plans to bring Disney+’s catalog to Hotstar, a popular video streaming service it owns, after the end of next year’s IPL cricket tournament in May, the people said.

Soon afterwards, the company plans to expand Hotstar with Disney+ catalog to Indonesia and Malaysia among other Southeast Asian nations, said those people on the condition of anonymity.

A spokesperson for Hotstar declined to comment.

Hotstar leads the Indian video streaming market. The service said it had more than 300 million monthly subscribers during the IPL cricket tournament and ICC World Cup earlier this year. More than 25 million users simultaneously streamed one of the matches, setting a new global record.

However, Hotstar’s monthly userbase plummets below 60 million in weeks following IPL tournament, according to people who have seen the internal analytics. The arrival of more originals from Disney on Hotstar, which already offers a number of Disney-owned titles in India, could help the service sustain users after cricket seasons.

The international expansion of Hotstar isn’t a surprise as it has entered the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. in recent years. In an interview with TechCrunch earlier this year, Ipsita Dasgupta, president of Hotstar’s international operations, said so far the platform’s international strategy has been to enter markets with “high density of Indians.”

In an earnings call for the quarter that ended in June this year, Disney CEO Robert Iger hinted that the company, which snagged Indian entertainment conglomerate Star India as part of its $71.3 billion deal with 21st Century Fox, would bring Star India-operated Hotstar to Southeast Asian markets, though he did not offer a timeline.

Disney+, currently available in the U.S, Canada and the Netherlands, will expand to Australia and New Zealand next week, and the U.K., Germany, Italy, France and Spain on March 31, the company announced last week.

Price hike

Disney, which debut its video streaming service in the U.S. this week and has already amassed over 10 million subscribers, plans to raise the monthly subscription fee of Hotstar in India, where the service currently costs $14 a year, one of the two aforementioned people said.

A screenshot of Hotstar’s homepage

The price hike will happen towards the end of the first quarter next year, just ahead of commencement of next IPL cricket tournament season, they said. The company has not decided exactly how much it intends to charge, but one of the people said that it could go as high as $30 a year.

In other Southeast Asian markets, the service is likely to cost above $30 a year as well, both of the sources said. The prices have yet to be finalized, however, they said.

Even at those suggested price points, Disney would be able to undercut rivals on price. Until recently, Netflix charged at least $7 a month in India and other Southeast Asian markets. But this year, the on-demand streaming pioneer introduced a $2.8 monthly tier in India and $4 in Malaysia.

Hotstar offers a large library of local movies and titles syndicated from international cable networks and studios Showtime, HBO, and ABC (also owned by Disney). In its current international markets, Hotstar’s catalog is limited to some local content and large library of Indian titles.

In recent quarters, Hotstar has also set up an office in Tsinghua Science Park in Beijing, China and hired over 60 engineers and researchers as it looks to expand its tech infrastructure to service more future users, according to job recruitment posts and other data sourced from LinkedIn.

Original Content podcast: If you haven’t watched ‘Succession’ yet, what are you even doing?

You’ve probably already heard that HBO’s “Succession” (which recently completed its second season) is amazing. And as three East Coast tech reporters, we were probably the easiest targets for the show’s many charms.

Still, we felt like we had to talk about it. In fact, our “Succession” review on this episode of the Original Content podcast is perhaps our most epic discussion so far. And we probably would have gone for even longer, if we thought anyone would still be listening.

The series revolves around the Roy family, whose patriarch Logan Roy (played by Brian Cox) founded and still leads the Waystar Royco media empire. Throughout the course of the two seasons, his four children — heir apparent Kendall (Jeremy Strong), political fixer Shiv (Sarah Snook), snarky smart aleck Roman (Kieran Culkin) and libertarian weirdo Connor (Alan Ruck) — all take turns vying for their father’s attention and scheming against him.

All three of us loved “Succession,” but even without a long argument about the show’s merits, there was still plenty for us to debate: How a story with such morally bankrupt characters can still be so compelling, to what extend those characters are motivated by love versus hate versus greed (and whether they can even tell the difference) and who, in the end, deserves to sit on the corporate throne.

We also discuss next week’s launch of Disney+ and Apple TV+, and which shows we’re most excited about finally watching.

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you want to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:41 Apple/Disney discussion
10:16 “Succession” spoiler-free review
25:50 “Succession” spoiler discussion

‘Game of Thrones’ creators are heading to Netflix

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Game of Thrones creators and showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have been lured to Netflix, with an exclusive deal rumoured to run to nine figures.

The pair will write, produce and direct new shows and movies for the streaming giant, according to Deadline. They’d reportedly met with basically every big name in the business, including Disney, Amazon, Comcast, Apple, and their former home of HBO/WarnerMedia.

“They are a creative force and have delighted audiences worldwide with their epic storytelling,” Netflix’s Ted Sarandos told Deadline. “We can’t wait to see what their imaginations will bring to our members.” Read more…

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Original Content podcast: ‘Years and Years’ takes an unsettling look at the next decade

“Years and Years” is an unusual show. It’s a co-production of HBO and the BBC, and in the course of six hourlong episodes, it covers a span of more than 10 years in our near future.

During that time, we see the rise of a terrifying Trump-style politician in the United Kingdom named Vivian Rook (played by Emma Thompson), along with lots more political, economic and technological upheaval. All of this is seen through the eyes of Manchester’s Lyons family — grandmother Muriel and adult siblings Rory, Edith, Daniel and Rosie, plus their spouses and children.

No one in the family is a major power player; they simply watch everything change with a growing sense of dread. That, in large part, is what makes the show effective — it feels true to the experience of trying to get on with your life while the world shifts around you.

On the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, we spend the entire hour reviewing the show. We had some reservations about the finale — which seemed to abandon the strengths of the previous episodes — but even so, we were impressed by the series, and by the way it brought so many of our fears to life.

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you want to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:

0:00 Intro
0:23 “Years and Years” review
30:07 “Years and Years” spoiler discussion

‘Game of Thrones’ season finale sets record as HBO’s most-viewed episode ever

Despite disappointing many longtime fans of the show, the “Game of Thrones” series finale set a new record for HBO as the most viewed episode in the network’s history. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the episode reached 13.6 million viewers during its initial airing on Sunday night, which rose to 19.3 million once replays and early streaming was included. The record was previously held for a short time by the season’s penultimate episode, which drew in 12.48 million viewers when first aired and a total of 18.4 million during its first night.

The eighth and last season of “Game of Thrones,” which premiered in 2011, averaged 44.2 million viewers through Sunday after streaming, on-demand, DVRs and replays were added in, or 10 million more than the season 7 average, said HBO .

The previous HBO series finale with the most viewers was “The Sopranos” with 11.9 million viewers, though that was in 2007, before streaming and other digital services took off.

 

Cersei teases aftermath after the battle in eerie ‘Game of Thrones’ preview

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If you can see through your tears, the scenes for next week on Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 4 is here. And it is all about the bloody aftermath that will seemingly follow the Long Night we just survived.

“We Have won the Great War,”  Daenerys says. “Now we will win the Last War.”

Surprisingly, this strongman tactic appears to work on the ice cold northerns, who seem to finally be warming up to their new dragon king. Read more…

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‘Westworld’ went to imperialist India this week and we didn’t really need it

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Westworld Season 2, episode 3 didn’t begin in any place we’ve seen. The episode opened on what appeared to be colonial India, which we immediately realize is another Delos park: The Raj.

It’s certainly a twist in what fans expected of Season 2 – namely a clamoring for Shogun World – and an interesting choice, to say the least.

The purpose of introducing The Raj – which we may not ever see again – is twofold: First, to see that hosts in other parks are revolting, just as they are in Westworld, and to learn where that monstrously large Bengal tiger came from in episode 1. Read more…

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Trailer for ‘Silicon Valley’ Season 5 drops, minus TJ Miller of course

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What’s life going to be like for the Silicon Valley gang, sans Erlich Bachman?

Following last season’s departure of TJ Miller, who plays Bachman, fans have likely wondered what Season 5 will look like — especially without that priceless tension between him and Jian Yang.

HBO dropped a trailer for the upcoming season on Tuesday, and well, it’d certainly appear the rivalries are staying the same. Pied Piper is still butting heads with Hooli, and its founder Richard Hendricks, played by Thomas Middleditch, is still trying to prove himself as a competent leader.

Same old, maybe, but we shall see. Season 5 of Silicon Valley debuts on Mar. 25. Read more…

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Please stop applauding Louis C.K. for doing the bare minimum

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Well, it looks like the Louis C.K. apologists have at least pivoted to a different tactic than simply labeling accusers liars, after the comedian finally admitted to the sexual misconduct he’s been disparaging as mere “rumor” for five years (and as recently as two months ago).

Within mere hours of C.K. issuing his statement, the internet fell over itself to commend him for the brave act of finally admitting he is, in fact, a sexual harasser and feels bad about it — now that there’s a New York Times story about it, anyway.

And as C.K. fans (and even some of his critics) pat him on the back for doing the literal least he could by not lying anymore, some conservatives continue to make excuses for Roy Moore, the former Alabama judge and U.S. Senate candidate accused of initiating a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32. Read more…

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What Jaime's big moment with Cersei means for 'Game of Thrones' Season 8

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Ah, Jaime Lannister. Longtime kingslayer, first-time queen betrayer.

Turns out that most of the biggest political maneuvers in Game of Thrones Season 7 finale were a farce. For all her apparent fear of the wight from beyond the Wall and waffling over whether or not to join the Great War, Cersei was full of it the whole dang time.

That was one of the bombshell revelations from the episode’s concluding sprint across Westeros: Cersei still gonna Cersei. She’s been a vile, duplicitous monster for seven straight seasons and, hey… she’s still got it!

Although she agreed to stand beside Dany, Jon, and their assembled forces to fight in the Great War, Cersei never intended to do anything of the sort. Instead, she sent punk rock pirate boytoy Euron Greyjoy off on a secret mission to retrieve the Golden Company mercenaries: 20,000 warriors — with elephants — who can defeat dragons, I guess? Read more…

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Hackers just sent us practically all of HBO's social media passwords

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The leaks just keep coming.

The hackers responsible for the massive breach of HBO haven’t let up, and reached out to Mashable to share their latest exploits. And while the latest data dump doesn’t include any Game of Thrones spoilers, it definitely contains some information that the network wouldn’t want out in the open. 

Specifically, what appears to be the login credentials for almost every single HBO social media account. Passwords for everything from @HBO, @GameOfThrones, and @WestworldHBO to various Instagram and Giphy accounts were in a text document provided to us by the so-called “Mr. Smith group.” Read more…

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Crunch Report | HBO NOW Passes 2 Million Subscribers

HBO NOW passes 2 million subscribers, Trident Capital Cybersecurity raises a $300 million fund, Pinterest adds new visual search features and Y Combinator now takes recommendations from anyone. All this on Crunch Report! Read More

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Review round-up: Here's what people are saying about 'The Young Pope'

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The Young Pope is not for everyone, though maybe that’s exactly how he likes it.

Paolo Sorrentino’s upcoming series stars Jude Law as Pope Pius XIII (born Lenny Belardo), a newly elected, intimidating pope. 

The mere concept of the show — about about a pope who has been alive for fewer years than other popes — inspired tons of memes on Twitter. 

But critics’  were not as amused as the meme creators.

Here’s what some critics had to say about the show, which debuts on HBO on Jan. 15.

The New York Times

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“Beautiful and ridiculous.” Read more…

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