In September 2017, Hotstar, a subsidiary of Star India, introduced its streaming service in the U.S. and Canada, primarily targeting linguistically diverse South Asian diasporic communities. On its website, Hotstar publicizes 60,000+ hours of media content in eight languages (Hindi, Bengali, English, Marathi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu), culled from the extensive libraries of Star India’s 60+ channels as well as licensing arrangements. It also spotlights live coverage of cricket and cricket-related content.
Facebook is a key internet location for Hotstar USA's publicity efforts. Their Facebook page showcases clips from television shows, films, and sports content screened on Hotstar. This video promotes an original news comedy, On Air with AIB; the show deals with topics such as HIV/AIDs, drugs, violence, and fake news. This series is an extension of the comedy group All India Bakchod’s immensely popular sketches and parodies on their YouTube channel, which as of January 2018, have accumulated 335 million views and 2.8 million subscribers. The clip opens with chiaroscuro lighting showing outlines of four suited-men; the printed words, “Hotstar Originals” appear alongside. While this opening suggests a crime drama, as the men move into a lit space, All India Bakchod’s members become visible. The male voiceover announces “a Hotstar Original, On Air with AIB, but just watch Quantico with Priyanka Chopra instead.” The references to Quantico (which streams on Netflix), and the popular Bombay film star, Priyanka Chopra, who has forged a successful career in the U.S, and later, the refrain, “tragedy mein comedy, tragedy mein comedy” (“comedy in tragedy, comedy in tragedy”), assume knowledge of U.S. television, Bombay film, and ‘Hinglish’. The final shot invites viewers to sign up for Hotstar, providing details about its current promotion.
Given Hotstar's access to an extensive and growing library of media content, one might ask why would it need to produce original content. In offering this content and using a term recognized by streaming viewers in the U.S., Hotstar aligns itself and its products with Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu “Originals.” While Varun Narang, who currently heads Hotstar, and was a former CEO at Hulu, might have suggested this strategy, it underscores the importance of original content, not only for streaming companies like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon, but also for new entrants. “Originals” transform the companies from simple distributors to production brands.