RIL, Disney merge media ops to create Rs 70K cr behemoth : The Tribune India

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RIL, Disney merge media ops to create Rs 70K cr behemoth

RIL, Disney merge media ops to create Rs 70K cr behemoth

Tribune News Service

Sandeep Dikshit

New Delhi, February 28

Industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s wife Nita will head the merged media operations of Walt Disney Co and Reliance Industries, both companies announced on Wednesday.

The merged venture valued at about $ 8.5 billion (about Rs. 70,000 crore) will not just check the losses being suffered by Disney in India but also help the new entity to steal a march on rivals Sony, Zee Entertainment and Netflix. The merged entity will have over 75 crore viewers across India and will also cater to the Indian diaspora globally, said the statement.

Reliance, affiliates to hold 63.16% stake

  • Reliance and its affiliates will hold a 63.16% stake in the combined entity that will house two streaming services and 120 TV channels
  • Reliance will also invest Rs 11,500 crore into the joint venture to fight rivals such as Sony and Netflix
  • Disney+Hotstar has seen its paid subscriber base decline from around 55 million to about 40 million in the first quarter of this financial year because of Reliance’s Jio Cinemas winning exclusive rights for live sports

Reliance will infuse $1.4 billion with a combined stake of over 63.16% stake with Disney owning the rest. “Reliance Industries Ltd (and its affiliate) Viacom 18 Media Pvt Ltd and The Walt Disney Company today announced the signing of binding definitive agreements to form a joint venture that will combine the businesses of Viacom18 and Star India," the statement said.

Reliance-Disney will have 120 TV channels and two streaming platforms, besides TV and streaming rights for key tournaments in cricket which will make it the dominant player in sports.

In fact, cricket dealt the final blow to Disney’s India operations. It had bagged the broadcast rights of Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2020 and had hoped its subscribers on Hotstar would touch 10 crore. A major reason was Reliance acquiring broadcasting rights of IPL in 2022, leading to a haemorrhaging of Hotstar’s subscriber base which now stands at four crore.

Former Disney executive Uday Shankar will be the vice chair. Disney had acquired Hotstar and Star TV channels as part of takeover of 21st Century Fox’s global assets in 2019. “The deal will allow Disney to better serve consumers with a broad portfolio of digital services and entertainment and sports,” said Disney CEO Bog Iger in the statement.

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The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.

#Mukesh Ambani

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