April 16, 2024

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Disney and Ambani's Reliance Company create a new Indian media giant with 750 million viewers

Disney and Ambani's Reliance Company create a new Indian media giant with 750 million viewers

Sujit Jaiswal/AFP/Getty Images

Indian billionaire businessman Mukesh Ambani with his wife and founder chairman of Reliance Foundation Nita M Ambani.

New Delhi/London

Disney is collaborating with The richest man in Asia To create India's new media giant This means it will reach a local audience of over 750 million people.

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries and Disney have combined their digital streaming platforms and 100 TV channels in the country in a joint venture worth about $8.5 billion, the companies said in a statement on Wednesday.

Talk of a potential deal has been circulating for some time, as Disney has struggled to capitalize on the opportunity presented by a country of more than a billion people where English is widely spoken. Company A also faces… many problems back to home.

Disney made a big push into the country in 2019, when it acquired most of 21st Century Fox, including its vast Star India network.

Reliance will own just over 63% of the new entity, mostly through its subsidiary Viacom18, with Disney (Dis) Hold the rest.

“This is a historic agreement that heralds a new era in the Indian entertainment industry,” said Mukesh Ambani, whose sprawling business empire is worth more than $236 billion and spans retail, technology and renewable energy.

Ambani's wife, Nita M. Ambani, will be the head of the joint venture, which brings together “acclaimed Disney films and shows” with Viacom18's “iconic productions and sports shows,” the companies said, adding that the venture will also serve the Indian community across the world. the world.

“India is the most populous market in the world, and we are excited about the opportunities this joint venture will provide to create long-term value for the company,” said Bob Iger, Disney CEO.

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Disney has faced multiple challenges in India, which boasts a vibrant media and entertainment sector.

The House of Mouse was hit particularly hard in 2022 after losing the digital rights to broadcast the hugely popular show Indian Premier League Ambani group cricket matches.

Disney's streaming app in India, Hotstar, has lost millions of subscribers since then and suffered another blow last March when it stopped streaming HBO content.

Weeks later, Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), the parent company of HBO and CNN, moved its content to Ambani's JioCinema, taking Indian viewers of hit shows like “Game of Thrones” and “Succession” with them.

In its most recent fiscal year ending in September, Disney generated revenue of just 66 cents on average per Hotstar subscriber — down from 88 cents in 2022 and compared to $5.93 for a non-U.S. subscriber to Disney+, its flagship streaming service, according to for its annual report. a report.

Hotstar's subscriber count fell by 39% to 37.6 million during the last financial year.

On an earnings call in November, Iger said Disney's TV business was doing well in India, but other parts of its business in the country were struggling. “We have an opportunity to strengthen our hand,” he said at the time. “We want to stay in the (Indian) market.”

This story has been updated with additional information.