Disney+Hotstar, India’s leading streaming and television platform, may soon have a new owner. According to sources, Walt Disney Co. is in preliminary talks with potential buyers for its India business, which includes sports rights and other assets. Among the interested parties are two of India’s richest and most influential businessmen: Gautam Adani and Kalanithi Maran.
Disney is exploring various options for its Indian operations, which have faced stiff competition from Reliance Industries Ltd., the conglomerate led by Asia’s wealthiest individual, Mukesh Ambani. Reliance recently snatched the streaming rights for the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament, one of the most popular and lucrative sports events in the country, from Disney. Reliance also owns Viacom18 Media Pvt., a joint venture with Paramount Global and Uday Shankar’s Bodhi Tree Systems, which operates several entertainment channels and OTT platforms.
Disney’s senior executives have also engaged with private equity funds, recognising the need to explore multiple avenues for their India-based business. These discussions have remained confidential, with sources close to the matter providing insights.
A potential acquisition could align well with Maran’s broadcasting company, Sun TV Network Ltd., which has a strong presence in South India and offers a variety of regional content. For the Adani Group, which recently acquired New Delhi Television Ltd., one of India’s oldest and most respected news channels, buying Disney+Hotstar could complement its expansion into the media and entertainment sector.
However, these deliberations are still at a very preliminary stage, and any deal may not materialize. Representatives for Disney in India have declined to comment on these developments. So have the other parties.
These discussions regarding the potential sale of Disney’s India unit highlight the havoc caused by the aggressive entry of Reliance into the media and entertainment landscape. Reliance has been investing heavily in acquiring content rights, producing original shows and movies, and partnering with global players like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
In response, Disney is now employing a similar strategy by streaming the ongoing Cricket World Cup in India for free, aiming to regain subscribers even at the expense of short-term revenue in cricket-loving India.
In summary, Disney’s exploration of a potential sale of its India streaming and TV business signals the dynamic changes occurring in the Indian media and entertainment landscape. With major players like Reliance disrupting traditional norms, Disney is evaluating its options. Stay tuned for official updates as it will get spicy with Adani vs Ambani.
Source : Binged