Hotstar has announced that it is expanding its Premium Service with a new storytelling format, CinePlay, under its Originals banner. Hotstar Originals' CinePlay is touted to showcase classics and contemporary stories from the theatre world which will be presented in a cinematic fashion. The new format will bring together works of leading playwrights, renowned directors and the best of the actors from both theatre and cinema.

The announcement follows the recent deal between Disney and Hotstar that announced last month. The latter gives Hotstar access to films made under four different studios - Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Disney itself - plus television content thanks to Disney's ownership of ABC Studios.

According to App Annie, Hotstar was the largest premium streaming platform in the month of January in India with more than 60 million users. Its watch time for the month was more than 12 times that of Amazon Prime Video and more than 20 times that of Netflix.

CinePlays will bring some of the most renowned stories from theatre from leading playwrights like Dr. Vijay Tendulkar, Badal Sircar, Mohan Rakesh, and Mahesh Dattani, among others. The productions have been helmed by renowned directors such as Santosh Sivan and Nagesh Kukunoor. They will feature theatre and film actors including Nandita Das, Saurabh Shukla, Lillete Dubey, Swanand Kirkire, Namit Das, Darshan Jariwalla, Rajpal Yadav, Sonali Kulkarni and others.

"We love breaking norms," said Ajit Mohan, CEO, Hotstar, "We have never believed in the artificial separation between television and digital audiences. Our aspiration for Hotstar Originals has always been to introduce new formats and stories that are not being explored by anyone, irrespective of the screen. CinePlay is a big leap forward for storytellers and their audiences in the country. We are excited to bring an entirely new way of storytelling to a generation that has not been exposed to either these stories or to the power of theatre."

Hotstar also achieved new heights during the India-England series, the company said, registering several online viewership records on its platform for live sporting events. The video streaming platform registered more than 25 million users during the second one-day international between India and England that took place on January 19, accounting for a majority of the Internet traffic from India on that day.

Additionally, more than 3 million viewers tuned in to watch the final T20 match of the England series on Hotstar, which is a new high in the Asia Pacific region. The numbers posted by Hotstar, backed by Akamai's Intelligent Platform, reflects the streaming service's success in the country, which also saw more than 75 percent of viewers streaming the match from mobile networks, according to the company.

"We are seeing dramatic growth in our viewership every month, including in cricket. As millions of new users embrace Hotstar as a way of life, the platform is seeing new highs in sports viewership as well. As data costs fall dramatically, and users increasingly look to their mobile as the primary screen, we are starting to see the emergence of Hotstar as the primary destination in cities with more than a million in population. This trend will accelerate in the next few months, especially during IPL, and we rely on Akamai's solutions to ensure that we are able to scale in line with this vertical growth in demand," said Ajit Mohan, CEO, Hotstar. - NDTV