Reuters, citing Mint, the daily, reported the move comes at a time when demand for video streaming in India is growing, with companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video doing brisk business in the country. Hotstar went live in India in 2015, roughly a year before Netflix entered the market and close to two years before Amazon Prime Video launched in India. It still maintains its lead ahead of both rivals, noted the report. A Hotstar representative denied to Reuters talks were going on with Flipkart, but noted the company was open to partnerships that can help it grow in India and outside the country.
Flipkart has a past relationship with Hotstar, joining forces in July to launch a video advertising platform. Reuters noted Hotstar is also one of the Flipkart Plus Internet partners. Flipkart Plus is its customer loyalty program that is aiming to take on Amazon Prime.
If Flipkart is able to acquire a stake, it wouldn’t be the first deal it’s inked since the deal with Walmart was announced. In August it acquired Liv.ai, the Bengaluru startup working on speech recognition platforms using artificial intelligence. According to a report in BGR citing Flipkart, once the deal is complete, Liv.ai will become part of Flipkart’s center of excellence for voice-based solutions, with the goal of creating a more personalized and conversational shopping experience for consumers. The report noted that Flipkart is aiming to use Liv.ai’s speech-to-text technology to give consumers in India a shopping environment that is in their own language.
“The next wave of growth of internet users is coming from Tier 2+ cities, and 70 percent of these current internet users are native/vernacular language speakers, and this proportion is only increasing,” Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy said in an interview. “Given the complexities in typing on vernacular keyboards, voice will become a preferred interface for new shoppers.”