In terms of content, there are many TV channels owned by Star India, and users can watch a number of sports tournaments such as the ICC Cricket World Cup, ISL, Hockey India League, English Premier League and so on. A lot of content is made in India for Star Plus, but popular English language content such as Game of Thrones and How I Met Your Mother is also available.
Pros and Cons
- Wide range of both English and Indian language content. Users can switch between content native to India and their favourite English series which are well known globally.
- Range of sports tournaments available. Sports fans will benefit from using this app, as there are many options for streaming the latest matches and leagues.
- Offline content. Users can download content to their mobile devices to watch offline. This is useful for people who are on the go a lot or who have poor internet connections.
- Ads before content. There is a one minute ad before many videos, which cannot be skipped. Furthermore, many with slow internet connections have reported that such ads can take a while to buffer.
- Content quality. While the quality can be lowered if you have a slow internet connection, the picture can be pixelated, buffer frequently or experience lags due to high traffic on the site.
- Customer service issues. Many user reviews online complain that payment is taken but plans aren’t upgraded accordingly, customer service is not easy to contact and it’s difficult to cancel a subscription.
Types of content available
You will generally find that the Hotstar app is well populated – in fact, some shows have hundreds of episodes available, making it easy to binge watch your favourite series. Furthermore, many titles in the content library are available for offline viewing, making it easy to catch up when you’re on the go. Some may find that movies are not available for download due to issues with rights, but the shows are generally eligible.
The TV channels available include Hotstar Specials, StarPlus, Life OK, Asianet, Showtime, Fox Live, National Geographic, Star World and Star Sports. When it comes to movies, these are available in Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, Marathi, English, Kannada and Gujarati.
In the sports department, there’s cricket, football, badminton, hockey, tennis, eSports, martial arts, Formula One, Kabaddi, table tennis, Khelo India, athletics, boxing and water sports.
The news section is thorough, as there is live news available from locations such as Aaj Tak, Republic TV, ABP News and India Today. You can view the top headlines, entertainment news, trending news, a news roundup, national news, politics news, world news and more. This is the section which perhaps most closely resembles streaming services such as Netflix and Disney Plus in terms of its user interface.
The Premium section is similar to news in this respect. It includes teasers for new and upcoming content, a slider of top picks and content broken down into categories, such as Oscar winning movies, romantic titles, comedies, crime, titles based on books and animations. You’ll also find top Star Wars movies, stand up specials and a last chance to view titles set to leave Hotstar soon.
Top Hotstar TV shows and movies
American Horror Story
A horror anthology series from Ryan Murphy with several seasons under its belt. Each episode offers a different spooky thrill for viewers.
Two Russian spies with kids pose as an American family in 1980s Washington during the Cold War in order to spy on the US government.
The Bluths are a dysfunctional family who were once wealthy. After the father is imprisoned, it’s down to one family member to manage everyone’s affairs.
Band of Brothers
A miniseries comprising 10 parts which is based on a 1992 book from Stephen Ambrose. It focuses on a World War II unit called Easy Company and looks at the horrors of war.
A drama centered on the nuclear disaster in Soviet Ukraine in 1986. Comprising five parts, it looks at the who, why, what and how it all happened.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Larry David, the creator of Seinfeld, plays a fictional version of himself in a semi-improvised sitcom about a TV writer who encounters a number of embarrassing situations.
With famous names such as David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi and Jodie Whittaker each offering a new version of the titular character, this series is a cult classic.
Game of Thrones
Perhaps one of the most popular shows of all time, this series is based on George R R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels and focuses on seven medieval kingdoms.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
A long-running sitcom focused on five underachievers who run an Irish bar in South Philadelphia. Each season has been a huge fan hit.
While the performance of Hotstar is often debatable when it comes to quality, the user interface is generally agreed to be good. It runs smoothly on iOS devices in particular, and it’s easy to find the videos you want to watch. When using the site on a mobile device, the hamburger icon – also known as three horizontal lines – in the top left hand corner is a shortcut to access playlists, downloads and curated sections such as an individual homepage with top picks suited to them. There is a main screen which showcases videos from a number of categories, and these are organised in categories such as Featured, TV Shows, Movies and Sports. Swiping on either side of these will take you to the next section, and playing a video just takes a simple tap, making each transition smooth and simple.
Compatible devices and system requirements
How to cancel Hotstar
- Log into Hotstar on desktop (the functionality is currently not available on the Android or iOS app)
- Go to the My Account page
- Scroll down until you reach the option to Cancel Membership
- Click through until you receive confirmation of the cancellation
- Hotstar will stop billing you from the next billing period
- Premium will still be available until your current billing period ends
Plans, trials and subscription options
There are two kinds of subscription options available with Hotstar – a monthly plan or an annual plan. With both plans, the available content includes sports, movies and TV shows. There is also a premium plan, which unlocks a huge range of English language movies and series. The VIP plan offers an ad free version of the premium plan.
Membership can be obtained using credit cards, Paytm, iTunes subscriptions or credit cards. All subscriptions automatically renew, so cancellation will need to be done manually if you no longer want access to the service.
There are consistent reports of a free 30 day trial for new subscribers. Those who want to become a premium subscriber can go to the Hotstar website and click on Go Premium. There may then be an option to sign up and start a free month.
The main competitor for Hotstar is Netflix. These two streaming services differ slightly in what they offer. For example, many will say Netflix has a superior application and user interface. This is because Hotstar can be prone to some glitches and issues with playback quality. Meanwhile, Netflix will adjust its quality by automatically detecting internet speed. Perhaps one of the main downsides with Hotstar is that video playback can be slow due to the number of people on this free application at any one time.
Netflix has a huge range of TV shows and movies available, including original programming such as Stranger Things, Black Mirror, Narcos and many other award winning titles. That said, Hotstar provides access to major shows such as Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley and a wide range of Bollywood and regional films.
What we think of Hotstar
Hotstar has a number of factors in its favour. The free trial, content library, range of subscription options and additional features such as news channels make it stand out. Many users of Hotstar have said that they spend much longer on watching content there than with other competitors in the market, as there is simply so much more on offer.
However, many of the main complaints with Hotstar concern the quality, playback and customer service issues. Being unable to get through to customer service, successfully cancel a subscription or watch content without having it buffer or play in poor quality are major red flags. Some other complaints focus on situations where people are watching a video on their smartphone, receive a call or notification, then find that their progress has not been saved when they return to the app.
Is Hotstar worth it?
Hotstar may be worth giving a go if you are tired of the content library offerings with other competitors and want to make the most of regional programming, news channels and the sports streaming offers available. The breadth of content available is undoubtedly a major pull which makes this platform stand out. However, the issues with customer service, billing and streaming quality are factors which cannot be easily ignored.
How to sign up to Hotstar
- Navigate to the Hotstar website
- Click on the Log In button
- Enter your mobile number or log in using your Facebook account
- Input account information
- Make payment if you are signing up for a Premium account
- Begin browsing content