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Disney Explores Sale of Streaming Business in India – Reliance Among Potential Buyers

The Busy Brains

19 Sept 2023

Disney is in preliminary talks about selling its streaming and TV business in India, with Reliance Industries being one of the potential buyers, as it seeks various options for the Disney Star business.

Walt Disney Co. is reportedly in preliminary discussions with potential buyers, including Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd., concerning the sale of its streaming and television business in India.

According to a Bloomberg report, Disney is considering various options, including selling the entire Disney Star business or a partial transaction involving a combination of assets, such as sports rights and the regional streaming service Disney+ Hotstar. The talks are exploring different avenues, including an outright sale or establishing a joint venture.

This development follows Disney's Indian unit losing the streaming rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament to Viacom18 Media Pvt., a collaboration between Paramount Global and Reliance. Disney had previously approached Reliance about the possibility of acquiring a stake in the business.

The report notes that the discussions are ongoing and may not lead to a deal.

Reliance stated that it continually assesses various opportunities and will disclose necessary information at the appropriate time.

Despite a dip in subscriber numbers after losing the IPL streaming rights, Disney Star has retained a presence in the cricket business, securing television rights until 2027. It also licensed TV rights for International Cricket Council men's matches to ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. for four years while retaining the digital rights with Disney+ Hotstar.

JioCinema, backed by Reliance, attracted a record 32 million concurrent viewers in May during the IPL final, which was available for free on the platform. Following a multi-year agreement to stream exclusive content from Warner Bros Discovery Inc. in India, JioCinema has initiated charging fees for access to some of its content.

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