Reliance Industries, led by Mukesh Ambani, is reportedly in advanced talks to acquire Walt Disney’s India operations, specifically the Disney Star business. According to sources familiar with the matter, this deal is expected to be a cash and stock transaction, with Reliance acquiring a controlling stake in the business. The valuation of the Disney Star business is estimated to be around $10 billion, although Reliance views the assets at a slightly lower value of $7 to $8 billion.
If the acquisition goes through, it is anticipated that Reliance will merge some of its media units into Disney Star. This move would further strengthen Reliance’s presence in the Indian entertainment industry. Additionally, it has been suggested that Disney may retain a minority stake in the Indian company even after the transaction is completed. However, no final decision has been made regarding the deal or the valuation, and Disney could still choose to hold onto the assets for a longer period of time.
This potential acquisition by Reliance reflects the company’s ambition to disrupt India’s entertainment industry. Just last year, Reliance secured the streaming rights to the Indian Premier League, one of the most popular domestic cricket tournaments, for a staggering $2.7 billion. Reliance then broadcasted the tournament for free on its JioCinema platform. Additionally, Reliance recently struck a multi-year deal to broadcast HBO shows in India, content that was previously with Disney. These strategic moves have allowed Reliance to take a significant foothold in the Indian entertainment market.
Persisting Challenges and Market Opportunities
While Disney Star has faced challenges in terms of declining subscriber numbers, the company has not given up on the Indian market. It has been exploring various options, including an outright sale or setting up a joint venture. This potential acquisition by Reliance demonstrates the attractiveness of the Indian entertainment industry and the opportunities it offers for industry players to adapt and grow.
Record-breaking Viewership and Future Prospects
Despite the challenges, Disney’s India streaming platform managed to attract a record 43 million viewers for the recent men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 match between India and New Zealand. This viewership surpassed the highly anticipated India-Pakistan match, which garnered 35 million viewers. These impressive viewership numbers highlight the potential of the Indian market and the demand for high-quality entertainment content.
The potential acquisition of Disney Star by Reliance Industries signifies a major move in India’s entertainment industry. With Reliance’s disruptive strategies, including securing streaming rights for popular tournaments and striking partnerships with international content providers, it is well-positioned to capitalize on the growing demand for entertainment in India. While challenges persist, the record-breaking viewership numbers reinforce the immense potential of the Indian market. Only time will tell if this deal goes through and if Reliance’s ambitious plans can further reshape the Indian entertainment landscape.