Has the Rise of Streaming Led WarnerMedia to Pull HBO in India?

For many fans of top-quality TV, HBO is a name that can be trusted. The US network has been behind a whole host of commercially and critically acclaimed shows through the years, from Game of Thrones and Succession to Curb Your Enthusiasm and True Detective. Its programming has also picked up a fair share of awards, with Watchmen for instance winning 11 Emmys earlier this year.

Despite that, recent reports have suggested that the network’s time in India is coming to an end, with WarnerMedia reviewing its offering in the country and other markets across Asia.

A difficult decision

TechCrunch has reported that the HBO and WB TV channels are being discontinued in India, where they are thought to have a relatively small audience. The services are also coming to an end in other areas including Pakistan and Bangladesh, despite WarnerMedia having a presence in the region for around ten years.

The website revealed that the company had confirmed the move in a statement and outlined how it was a “difficult decision to make”. WarnerMedia added that there had been a shift in the pay-TV market in the region.

CNN International, Cartoon Network and Pogo are expected to remain available in India, while HBO content may also still appear on other services. For instance, TechCrunch details how the likes of Curb Your Enthusiasm are available on services such as Disney+ Hotstar.

Streaming’s success

Of course, the talk of the apparent “shift” in TV models used in India could well be a reference to how streaming services have risen to prominence as a way for people to access quality content from both the big and small screen. There are a host of different platforms available, with each offering their own range of compelling content.

The News Minute reported in August that the aforementioned Disney+ Hotstar is believed to have more than 8.5 million subscribers in India at present. Furthermore, Netflix is home to plenty of intriguing content as well, with a good example being David Letterman’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. Towards the end of last year, the US talk show host welcomed actor Shah Rukh Khan onto the show, with the latter stating that he was “honoured” to be involved.

Amazon’s Prime Video has also become a major player in the streaming world, with it offering plenty of film and TV content to keep viewers hooked. Earlier this month, we outlined how the trailer for the second season of Mirzapur had got plenty of viewers excited, with a range of quotes from the show quickly being transformed into memes by fans on social media. In addition, Amazon has also acquired some exciting movie content, with it debuting the Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana film Gulabo Sitabo in the middle of June. Amazon Prime Video’s director and head of content in India, Vijay Subramaniam, said premiering the film was part of the company’s efforts to bring “superior cinematic experiences” to its customers.

Transformative impact

However, streaming’s success in India and other parts of the world has not just been driven by its performance in the arena of film and TV. The technology is having a transformative impact in other areas as well, with it becoming a key way for people to access different types of entertainment.

For example, it has become a real buzzword in gaming across the past couple of years, with services like Google Stadia developing the idea that you can stream high-quality games to devices including laptops, phones or tablets at the touch of a button. Other brands have also looked to get involved in this area, with Amazon confirming plans to launch a cloud gaming platform called Luna. At the end of September, it was revealed that US customers could request early access to the system, although no detail has yet emerged as to when it may be available in India.

Another area where streaming is now a key part of life is in the world of online casinos, with some sites offering so-called live gaming experiences which are hosted by a real-life dealer via a stream. Immersive Casinos like Betway provide high definition streaming with its offering, which includes variations on a host of classic pastimes such as roulette and blackjack. It also offers Bollywood-themed versions of the pair as well. Finally, streaming has also had a game-changing impact in the music world. Music Ally reported back in February that the Indian Music Industry trade body believes there are 200 million music streaming app users in India.

A major force

When all of this is considered, it is fair to say that streaming is changing the entertainment world as we know it. It is certainly transforming the TV industry, whether it ultimately had a bearing on the decision to discontinue the HBO and WB TV channels or not.

The technology has become a major force and it will be fascinating to see how it continues to influence and affect the entertainment industry in the years ahead.