Hotstar was one of the early birds in India in the industry of over-the-top media services, owing to the vision of Star (Business) Parivaar or Star India Pvt. Ltd.

Starting in 2015 with the Cricket World Cup streaming, to providing Game of Thrones (a little unsuccessfully though) in 2017, Hotstar has been running first in the race of viewership.

It had a user-base of 67.5 million in August 2017, while the biggest competitors, Netflix and Amazon Prime were far behind at 5.37 and 12.64 million, respectively.

Now let’s review Hotstar and understand how or why it became the largest OTT service provider of Movies, TV Shows, & Sports in India.

Website or App Experience

When you open the Homepage, you can explicitly check out the categories of TV, Premium, Movies, Sports, and News.

Hotstar Homepage with ZNMD

You can click on the Menu to explore the same categories with additional Home button, and sort by Channels, Languages, and Genres.

You may also choose to Sign In if you have the premium membership, if not, you should still sign in to access the content based on your viewing history.

However, the content is wholly divided into two types: Free and Premium.

All the movies, TV shows, sports content, etc. at the website is provided with tags on the thumbnails so that you can easily differentiate the free content from the premium one.

What I like the most is the sorting and filters provided when you click on a category from movies, TV, or sports.

Movie sorting & filter on Hotstar

If you click on ‘Movies’, you will see that the content is sorted by Popularity and filtered on many Genres & Languages. You are likely to see Popular Drama, Romance, Family, Comedy, Tamil, Bengali, Telugu, etc.

The whole thing is definitely a lot better than a lot of other Bollywood movie websites or Apps such as Yupp TV, Spuul, etc.

This surely gets an 8/10. Also, it’s the same algorithm and similar categorisation in the app of Hotstar. So, the experience remains the same whether in-app or site.

Range of Movies, TV Shows, Sports

Hotstar boasts of 50,000+ hours of Hollywood and Bollywood Movies and TV Shows. These are available in 9 languages – Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, Marathi, Kannada, Gujarati, and English.

The content is primarily divided between free and premium, let’s look at each below:

Free Movies & Shows

The list of free movies range from recent popular and hit films such as Jolly LLB 2, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Bahubali 2, Golmaal Series, etc. You may also find a lot of critically acclaimed, cult classics, regional, and even frivolous movies such as Gangaajal, Baby, Drishyam, Ghayal, Kabali, Bang Bang, Fukrey, etc.

However, it’s the list of Indian TV Shows due to which they are having the whopping user-base of nearly 70 million!

Categories of TV Serials on Hotstar

The list holds one of the most popular Indian daily soaps and seasoned TV shows broadcasted on Star TV Channels such as – Ye Rishta, Ye Hai Mohabbatein, Mahadev, Mahabharat, Savdhaan India, Koffee with Karan, MasterChef, Dance Shows, and many other regional language soaps too!

Premium Movies & Shows

The list of Premium Bollywood or Hollywood Movies is not something significant as compared to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Popcornflix, or Vudu. There’s Phillauri, Talvar, ZNMD, Pink, Neerja, Captain America, Kingsman, Zero Dark Thirty, Step Up, etc. but no latest movies to showcase.

However, the TV shows you get to see are quite exclusive (and also Emmy awarded), if not latest, like the Game of Thrones Season 7, Prison Break, Sex & the City, How I met your Mother, Modern Family, Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, This is Us, etc.

So far, you must have guessed what the Premium subscription is all about. Yes, it has some great content from overseas. That’s what makes Hotstar the most widely used portal! As it gathers market from all the urban, suburban and rural areas of the country!

Sports

Well, watching Cricket in India means Star Sports!

You get the live telecast of the matches that broadcast on Star. For example, the upcoming India vs Sri Lanka Test Series from 16 Nov to 24 Dec 2017 can be seen live on Hotstar!

Even the Indian Premier League or IPL is a part of their streaming! Though there’s a delay of a few minutes from the live match, that’s not an issue if you are only following one channel or source to check the score.

Apart from Cricket, there’s a lot more to explore: Football, Badminton, Hockey, Kabaddi, etc.

 Therefore, for the vast range of content, it deserves a rating of 9/10!

Video – Player Options, Quality, Buffering & Advertisements

Well, as I’ve mentioned in my reviews on SonyLIV & Box TV as well that the buffering is entirely dependent upon your internet connection/speed.

However, with Hotstar, I don’t think buffering is ever going to be an issue as you can choose your suitable video quality in the video player and it is available for as low as 180 pixels! Means seamless buffering on even the 2G Data! They surely want to capture the 2G Internet network.

The video player options are one of the best I’ve used so far. It has a 10-second replay button. However, if you watch it on full-screen, the left & right arrow keys can be used to shuffle 10 seconds minus or plus, respectively. Also, the up or down keys can be used to adjust the volume.

Hotstar Video Player Options

Not to miss is the captions button where you can turn them on and off. There’s obviously the quality selection button which ranges from 180p to 1080p Full HD! However, I keep it at ‘Auto’ so that the quality adjusts based on the internet speed.

Hotstar Choose Quality in Player

Also, if you sign in with your account, you can add videos to your watchlist and create a playlist as well.

Ads Placement

The in-between advertisements appear for 5-6 times while watching a free movie. Though the website does not have ads in general on any landing page. Therefore, it seems fair that by giving you free content, the company is making some money by advertising certain products/services. You get that even while watching movies on YouTube.

However, when you go for a premium subscription, you also go ad-free!

For this parameter, I’d give them a 10/10!

Compatibility, Registration & Pricing

The Hotstar App can be downloaded from Android or iOS play store and is compatible with all Smartphones & Tablets. But I still prefer to use the website to watch any video.

Of course, there’s no difference in the content whether you access from any device. You need not register or login to watch the free content. However, you’ll have to bear with the interruptions by ads in-between any video.

But, if you take the premium subscription worth Rs. 199, with the first-month free streaming, you get an ad-free experience. To take the premium subscription, go to any premium video and click on it, it will redirect you to choosing your plan. They also show the additional features you get with the premium membership:

Hotstar Premium Subscription Features

Final Thoughts

Hotstar has made sure that they come up with unique content partnership from India and the World to maintain the growth rate.

There was the Cricket World Cup, then came On Air with AIB, Game of Thrones, and Sarabhai vs Sarabhai Season 2.

Let’s hope they come up with more variety of movies, TV Shows, Live content, Sports, etc. and bring in a flavour of latest or trending topics.

Also, since a lot of people like to download movies instead of streaming free movies online, it will be great if they come up with an option to provide free downloads too!

Also Read – 7 Best Free Movie Apps for Watching Online Streaming Movies