Disney and Reliance Reportedly Sign Binding Pact for Media Merger in India

Mahek Baid
Mahek Baid February 26, 2024
Updated 2024/02/26 at 9:55 AM

The collaboration between Walt Disney and Reliance Industries to merge their media operations in India is a significant move in the entertainment industry. This partnership comes amid fierce competition in India, a country with a massive population and growing media consumption.

Reports suggest that Reliance, led by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, and its associated companies will hold at least 61 percent ownership in the merged entity, with Disney holding the remainder. Although the exact details are yet to be officially announced, this development is expected to be confirmed soon.

The deal may also involve Disney’s stake in Tata Play, a broadcast service provider, as Reliance considers acquiring it. Both companies aim to strengthen their positions in India’s rapidly expanding entertainment market.

For Disney, the move reflects its efforts to address challenges in India, including retaining subscribers and securing valuable media assets. Reliance, on the other hand, has been steadily increasing its presence in the local media and entertainment sectors.

The partnership between these two giants could create a formidable force in India’s entertainment landscape. Reliance notably outbid Disney in 2022 to acquire streaming rights for the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament. Additionally, it secured a deal to broadcast HBO shows from Warner Bros Discovery, previously held by Disney.

Reliance Disney: Reliance, Disney ink non-binding agreement for mega merger - The Economic Times

Disney’s streaming platform, Disney+ Hotstar, attracted record viewership during the Cricket World Cup by offering matches for free in India. This strategy, although sacrificing immediate revenue, aimed to regain subscribers in a competitive market where Reliance had earlier streamed IPL matches at no cost.

Disney has been exploring options for its India business, including a potential sale or joint venture, for some time now. This move aligns with broader consolidation efforts in India’s media and entertainment industry, exemplified by the failed merger between Sony Group and Zee Entertainment Enterprises due to leadership disputes.

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