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Disney And Reliance Forge $8.5 Billion Partnership To Dominate Indian Media Landscape

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(CTN News) –  In a strategic alliance set to redefine the Indian media landscape, Disney and Asia’s wealthiest individual, Mukesh Ambani, have joined forces to create a media giant with a targeted reach of over 750 million domestic audiences.

The collaboration, announced in a joint statement on Wednesday, involves the integration of Reliance Industries’ digital streaming platforms and 100 TV channels with Disney’s extensive media assets in India.

The deal, estimated at approximately $8.5 billion, underscores the increasing importance of the Indian market in the global media industry.

After Disney’s significant foray into the Indian market in 2019 with the acquisition of 21st Century Fox, including the expansive Star India network, the conglomerate faced challenges in fully capitalizing on the vast English-speaking population of over 1 billion people.

Reliance Industries, led by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, will hold a majority stake of just over 63% in the newly formed entity, primarily through its subsidiary Viacom18. Disney (DIS) will retain the remaining ownership.

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Mukesh Ambani expressed enthusiasm about the partnership, stating, “This is a landmark agreement that heralds a new era in the Indian entertainment industry.” Nita M. Ambani, wife of Mukesh Ambani, is set to serve as the chairperson of the joint venture.

The collaboration aims to leverage Disney’s acclaimed films and shows alongside Viacom18’s renowned productions and sports offerings. The companies envision the joint venture not only catering to the vast Indian audience but also reaching out to the global Indian diaspora.

Disney CEO Bob Iger highlighted the significance of India as the world’s most populous market, expressing excitement about the long-term opportunities that this partnership would bring to the company.

The move signifies a strategic step for Disney in overcoming challenges and tapping into the immense potential of the Indian media landscape.

Disney Grapples with Setbacks in India’s Competitive Media Landscape

Disney, a major player in the global media and entertainment sector, has faced considerable challenges in the dynamic Indian market.

The company encountered a significant blow in 2022 when it lost the digital rights to stream the immensely popular Indian Premier League cricket matches to Mukesh Ambani’s conglomerate.

The repercussions were felt on Disney’s streaming app in India, Hotstar, which witnessed a substantial decline in subscribers since losing the digital rights. The situation worsened in March of the same year when Hotstar ceased streaming HBO content.

Shortly thereafter, Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), the parent company of HBO and CNN, shifted its content to Ambani’s JioCinema, leading Indian viewers of hit shows like “Game of Thrones” and “Succession” to migrate with them.

In the financial year ending in September, Disney reported a decline in revenue from its Hotstar subscribers, earning an average of just 66 cents per subscriber. This was a notable decrease from 88 cents in 2022.

In comparison, a non-U.S. subscriber to Disney+, the company’s primary streaming service, contributed $5.93 on average, according to Disney’s annual report.

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Hotstar, once boasting a substantial subscriber base, saw a sharp decline of 39%, with numbers dwindling to 37.6 million over the latest financial year.

During an earnings call in November, Disney CEO Bob Iger acknowledged the challenges, stating that while the TV business was performing well in India, other segments of the company were facing difficulties.

Despite the setbacks, Iger expressed a commitment to the Indian market, emphasizing the opportunity to strengthen Disney’s position in the region.

The company is actively seeking ways to navigate the competitive landscape and regain its footing in India’s vibrant media and entertainment sector.

Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, she crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. Her writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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