If the Indian streaming arena has been simmering of late, then by all accounts 2019 looks to be the year it explodes. According to a report by the Boston Consulting Group, the numbers of players in the Indian OTT market has witnessed a 3.5x increase in the last six years growing from just nine players in 2012 to 32 in 2018. The report goes on to state that the video streaming market in India is set to touch $5 billion by 2023.
Having researched the current VOD landscape a fair bit for the purposes of compiling this list I can tell you this – the world of Indian streaming is more vast and stranger than we may have initially thought. Take for example Viru Ke Funde, a show in which cricketer Virender Sehwag provides 2-minute life hacks on everything from how to avoid paying taxes to how to win an argument with your wife. Then there's an entire subgenre of what is essentially softcore porn masquerading as web originals – quite possibly India's answer to the porn ban. Take that government.
The world of Indian streaming is this bizarre, messy, ever-expanding organism with new shows, players and partnerships being announced on what feels like a daily basis. Last heard, PayTM (the online payment wallet) will soon make its foray into the digital content space.
So, diving in, ranked from least known to the big household names, here are all the streaming platforms currently available in India that we could find and what they stand to offer:
Not too sure how best to describe this one. Remember back when DVD shops were a thing and there were those dusty shelves at the back, full of movies no one's ever seen? Tubi TV is essentially the streaming equivalent of that. It almost feels like an entire platform dedicated to so-bad-its-good cinema and/or drinking games. I guess one shouldn't complain because its free.
Price: Free and for good reason
What's Special: Don't miss on true gems like Ten Violent Women, Bikini Swamp Girl Massacre and 2-Headed Shark Attack
One of those curiously wonderful things that renews your faith in the internet, Kanopy is a free platform which streams 'thoughtful entertainment' in the form of hundreds of movies, documentaries and educational videos. All you need to access the content is to be a member of a local library. Outside its extensive film and documentary library, there's tons of video content on everything from film studies to career development.
Price: Free, all you need is to be a member of a public library
What's Special: A streaming platform aimed at education and development.
It's difficult to find anything particularly noteworthy about Spuul, which claims (according to their website) to have to over 47 million registered users across the world. While the service offers a decent enough library of Hindi cinema both new and old as well as a strong collection of Punjabi and Bhojpuri cinema, it doesn't manage to stand out from the crowd. Interestingly though, they do have a dedicated 'Star Kids' section.
Price: Limited set of free films, Premium at Rs 99 per month as well as rental options
What's Special: Not much
Yupp TV is a fine testament to how quickly you can be put off a platform due to its terrible navigation and structure. It's hard to make heads or tails of Yupp TV's programming, as the entire service feels far more geared toward Live TV (largely news and 'spiritual' channels available) rather than on-demand viewing. The only real redeeming factor here might be that the platform offers a 15-day free trial.
Price: Only Premium options available at Rs 99 a month
What's Special: Terrible user experience
NFDC's official streaming platform lets you watch all their indie films, much of which isn't available anywhere else. It offers a decent mix of shorts, documentaries and features such Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, Salaam Bombay and Island City which in itself might make it worth the price of admission.
Price: A handful of free movies, Premium subscription is Rs 149 a month or titles can be rented for Rs 60 each
What's Special: Films like Sudhir Mishra's Dharavi, Priya Krishnaswamy's Gangoobai, Anup Singh's Quissa
Owned by mammoth Bengali studio, SVF Entertainment, Hoichoi is the rare platform that knows exactly what it wants to do. It boasts of the largest catalogue of Bengali movies available online, not to mention dedicated sections for the greats such as Mrinal Sen and Satyajit Ray and Rituparno Ghosh. With slick navigation and an easy to use interface, Hoichoi is the streaming service which seems to have all its bases covered, owning its niche like few of its competitors.
Price: Only Premium options available at Rs 399 a year.
What's Special: The motherload of Bengali cinema and a whole bunch of originals
In many ways the Hotstar of the South, Sun NXT offers the motherload of Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu content. With both Live TV and a whole bunch of on-demand viewing available including content from Sun's own TV shows to a large bank of films new and old. A no brainer for connoisseurs of cinema from the South.
Price: Rs 50 a month
Zenga TV's content library feels like India's spiritual counterpart to Tubi TV – just landing on the site makes you ask yourself, "Is this even legal?" They'd probably be better off if the answer was no given just how shoddy their website is. A total mess of 'video content' from YouTube videos to Live TV (predominantly news channels) and the kind of movies you'd be happy going a lifetime without seeing.
Price: Free because let's face it
What's Special: The drinking game potential
Easily the most fascinating addition to this list. Vikram Bhatt creates a dedicated streaming platform to exclusively showcase his own content. Shows available on VBOnTheWeb (many of which feature Bhatt in leading roles) include: Apradhi, which is in Bhatt's own words a 'solid crime thriller' and 'rapist killer story' and Maya 2, an erotic love story between two women set in the world of BDSM. Bhatt may well also have the most interesting pricing strategy out there – charging per show rather than having to subscribe to the entire service.
Price: Offers both free and premium options, available at Rs 9 per show
What's Special: All things Vikram Bhatt
Outside of its sizeable movie library, Hong Kong-based media company Vuclip's video-on-demand service Viu has close to 40 original shows. These include Social – a social-media focused drama starring Rana Daggubati and Naveen Kasturia, No 1 Yaari – a chat show focused on actors from Telugu cinema again hosted by Rana Daggubati and the infamous Viru Ke Funde which is nothing short of addictive viewing.
Price: Plenty of free content or 99 a month for premium content
What's Special: Korean dramas, Viru Ke Funde
Reliance Entertainment's movie on demand service's only real salient feature is perhaps its reasonable price point – Rs 50 a month. But that's no surprise given their entirely unimpressive programming and movie library which, though it spans over 8 languages, largely feels like content for content's sake.
Price: Only Premium services available at Rs 50 a month or individual titles can be rented for Rs 80 each
What's Special: Creating a streaming platform just so you can say you did
MUBI is every indie movie lover's wet dream. It's the only streaming portal whose homepage has names like Paul Thomas Anderson, Gaspar Noe, Andrei Tarkovsky and Michael Haneke. The arthouse-focused platform recently made its foray to India, with a not-so-competitive price of Rs 500 a month.
Price: 7-day free trial followed by Rs 500 a month subscription. Some films are available to rent at Rs 299 a piece
What's Special: They're currently offering a special retrospective on Federico Fellini and his most celebrated films
Yet another platform pushing the world cinema/curation specialists tag. A kind of Indian-led Mubi if you will. While the concept is a great one, brimming with potential, they currently have a very limited offering with only a handful of titles to their name.
Price: Rs 80 a month
What's special: Renowned titles such as Sofia Coppola's Somewhere, George Clooney-starrer The American and Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock
Another mobile offering which similarly gives users access to the libraries of a number of other platforms like Hooq, Eros Now, Hungama Play and Alt Balaji. Throw in Live TV across range of channels hit shows like Friends and Big Bang Theory and it would seem Vodafone customers have themselves quite the offering.
Price: Free for Vodafone customers
What's Special: Access to content from multiple other platforms
In many ways the same service as Vodafone, with AirtelTV partnering up with many of the same streaming partners to offer a well-rounded range of movies and shows both international and local. Perhaps the one key differentiator is that AirtelTV users get one free year of Amazon Prime video making it quite the sweet deal.
Price: Free for Airtel Postpaid customer with Infinity Plans of Rs 499 and above
What's Special: Access to content from multiple other platforms and one year of Amazon Prime membership
In keeping up with the digital age, Tata Sky also has an online offering for all its customers to match its satellite services with A a recap service, Live TV and on-demand viewing. While it's probably not the largest source of films you'll find online, it's certainly one of the most underrated for it's easy to use portal and the unlikely things you'll come across like entire first season of Netflix hit Babylon Berlin to movies like Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive and Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Anand.
Price: Free for Tata Sky customers
What's Special: Ease of use and robust programming
Price: Rs 89 a month with the first two months free or Rs 59 each for renting specific titles
What's Special: Big-ticket Hollywood blockbusters, many of which are available dubbed in Hindi
Hungama Play's crowd-pleasing programming offers a little of everything from Hollywood to Bollywood to regional content. There are also a few originals like BarCode starring Akshay Oberoi and Marathi comedy series Padded Ki Pushup.
Price: Limited set of free movies, Premium subscription at Rs 99 a month or specific titles can be rented for Rs 60
What's Special: Not much
The streaming arm of Viacom18 offers a broad spectrum shows, films and originals, all free of cost. Outside of providing access to all the content from Viacom18-owned channels (including MTV, Nickelodeon and every Colors channel), a dedicated kids section and live news, it also offers a significant library of movies in Hindi, Kannada, Bengali and Tulu. The site lists 12 originals so far – which include TimeOut starring Sarah Jane Dias and Tahir Raj Bhasin, Stupid Man Smart Phone starring Sumeet Vyas, and It's Not That Simple starring Swara Bhasker.
What's Special: A great platform of shows, movies and originals that's entirely free of cost
The popular content creator – responsible for blowing up the web series space in India with shows like Permanent Roommates and Pitchers – houses all their content on their own platform all for free.
Despite being relatively new on the streaming scene, JioCinema already has a strong bank of licensed content ranging from popular Indian TV shows to a whole host of movies. Free to all Jio customers, JioCinema's tie-up with Disney also allows them to showcase many Disney shows and movies. JioCinema also appears to provide full access to Eros Now's vast movie library (for which you'd otherwise have to pay if you go via Eros Now). There's aren't any originals to boast of just yet, but reports suggest that that's due to change very soon.
Price: Free for all Jio customers
What Special: Exclusive streaming rights of films like Stree
Sony's own platform has everything from The Kapil Sharma Show to The Handmaid's Tale to The Australian Open, and a whole bunch of stuff in between. I'd call that a pretty strong offering, wouldn't you? Sony LIV also has close to 70 shows which they refer to as originals, however, many of these are available elsewhere from creators such as Arre.
Price: Plenty of free content or 99 a month for premium access. You can also rent certain films for a fixed price between Rs 50 – Rs 150
What's Special: The destination for all your favourite Sony shows as well as a fair amount of free content
Apart from just offering the obvious library of Eros-produced films, the platform also has a strong roster of regional films in a range of languages including Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Malayalam, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Bengali, Kannada. There are also a handful of originals like Smoke – a crime drama with Jim Sarbh, Kalki Koechlin and the late Tom Alter, Side Hero – a comedy starring Kunaal Roy Kapur, and travel show Salute Siachen featuring actors Arjun Rampal, Arunuday Singh and Ranvijay.
Price: Limited free content. Premium options start at Rs 49 a month for Eros Plus (doesn't include HD, subtitles or access to Originals) or Rs 99 per month for Premium which includes all services.
ZEE Entertainment's own streaming service offers a solid mix of Live TV and on-demand library of movies and originals. It's also become the home to films that have been in the cans for years like Richa Chadha-starrer Cabaret, touted to release in 2016 and Emraan Hashmi-starrer Tigers, due to release in 2014. Then, of course, there's Karenjit Kaur – The Untold Story of Sunny Leone, a biopic series in which the actress plays herself.
Price: Plenty of free content. Premium content available at Rs 99 a month
What's Special: A reliable source of Indian movies, Originals and classics like Deewar and Mera Naam Joker
This one needs no real introduction. The digital arm of Ekta Kapoor's Balaji Telefilms has fast become one of the leading players in the Indian streaming space. From more soft-core-esque shows like Gandii Baat to substance-backed shows like The Test Case, love it or hate it ALTBalaji is the platform you can't ignore. Whether it's bastardising the Indian streaming space or catering to an audience that no one else is, is a matter of opinion.
Price: Rs 300 a year or Rs 100 for three months
What's Special: The Test Case
Outside its obvious never-ending roster of short-form content, Youtube is in many ways the definitive streaming platform. Name your poison, from the latest movies available on rent to Live News to the single largest source of web series available online. It literally goes on for pages.
Price: Free for everything apart from movies, available to rent at between Rs 25 – 200 a piece
What's Special: The motherload of originals and web series
Supposedly the market leader in the Indian streaming space and for good reason. Between their competitively priced premium services, strong programming (chief of all being access to all HBO shows from Game Of Thrones to Big Little Lies to Sharp Objects, need I name more?) and large roster of free content. Add to that all the obvious Star content from Plus to World and one of the most reliable banks of Indian films available online anywhere. When wondering where a given Indian film is streaming online, more often than not the answer is likely to be Hotstar. That they've also bagged the rights to show the IPL is a bonus.
What's Special: A lot. From Game of Thrones to a large bank of Indian movies to the IPL
Price: Arguably the largest bank of free content available online, Premium access for Rs 199 a month or Rs 299 a year just for sports
One of the only streaming giants positioned to fight off the Netflix mammoth, Prime Video has been one of the most active players in the Indian originals space. There's an ever-growing roster of Indian stand-up specials, big-ticket originals such as Inside Edge and Mirzapur, and a whole pipeline still to come all at an affordable price. They also appear to be the current favourite to bag the streaming rights of major Indian films sometimes just 3 weeks after their theatrical release.
Price: Rs 129 a month or Rs 999 a year
What's Special: Mirzapur, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
The global streaming giant that reaches 190 countries worldwide needs no introduction. Though, for all its much-raved about programming, price is certainly not one of its bigger selling points. Since it's India launch in 2016, we've only seen a handful of Indian original shows such as Sacred Games, Ghoul and Selection Day, but with their recent announcement of over 10 original movies and shows planned for 2019, there's lots to look forward to.
Price: Rs 500 for their Basic services
What's Special: What isn't?