Disney+ Hotstar Orders 234 Episodes of Animated Series 'Selfie With Bajrangi'

Courtesy of Cosmos-Maya
'Selfie With Bajrangi'

India is one of the most fiercely contested markets for streaming video. Disney+ launched there earlier this month by fusing with local platform Hotstar, acquired by Disney in its deal for most of 21st Century Fox.

Disney+ Hotstar has followed up its launch in India earlier this month with a 234-episode commission of hit Indian animated series Selfie With Bajrangi.

The deal, unveiled Tuesday, will see Singapore- and India-based animation studio Cosmos-Maya produce three seasons of the show — 78 episodes of 11 minutes each.

Selfie With Bajrangi is one of Disney's most popular local-language properties in India. Earlier episodes have been airing on Disney India's pay TV properties, Disney Channel and Disney Hungama, in primetime since September 2018. The show has also aired on the general entertainment channel Star Plus, one of the many local channels Disney picked up when it bought large parts of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox last year for $71.3 billion.

"Bajrangi has brought together Disney+ Hotstar and Cosmos-Maya for a multi-season contract, and we couldn’t be more excited," said Anish Mehta, CEO of Cosmos-Maya.

Selfie With Bajrangi is modeled on kids’ day-to-day lives, aiming to capture the nuances of Indian culture with relatable storylines. The show's protagonist, Ankush, has his life upended when he meets Bajrangi, the modern-day nine-year-old-child version of the Indian god Hanuman, whom no one but Ankush can see. Bajrangi accompanies Ankush everywhere and helps his buddy with life's everyday adversities.

When Disney acquired most of 21st Century Fox, it picked up ownership of India's most popular streaming service, Hotstar. The Disney+ brand has since been fused with the existing streamer to make Dinsey+ Hotstar, available in two subscription options. A Disney+ Hotstar VIP subscription, which now costs 399 rupees ($5.20) per year, gives access to the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, Bollywood films, Hotstar originals, unlimited live sports and Star TV series. The top-level Disney+ Hotstar Premium subscription costs $20 annually and includes all of programming available to VIP subscribers, plus access to 29 Disney+ originals (such as The Mandalorian) and new U.S. shows from HBO, Showtime and Fox.

Last week, Disney said Disney+ had already amassed 50 million subscribers, with 8 million from India. Most of those subs, however, are thought to have been existing paying users of Hotstar that were simply converted to Disney+ Hotstar subscribers.

Disney+ Hotstar's advertising-supported offering is estimated to have as many as 300 million active users, most of them tuning in for Indian cricket. Hotstar holds the online streaming rights to Indian Premier League cricket, but the sport is currently on pause as India contends with the coronavirus pandemic.