Disney Is Considering Selling Its Indian Streaming and TV Business, Reliance Is Among Potential Buyers

Disney has discussed a range of options with would-be suitors, from selling Disney Star entirely to partnering for a combination of assets.

Disney Is Considering Selling Its Indian Streaming and TV Business, Reliance Is Among Potential Buyers

Photo Credit: Reuters

Disney Star has secured television rights for IPL through 2027

Highlights
  • Disney+ Hotstar lost its streaming rights to the Indian Premier League
  • Disney had approached Reliance about buying a stake in the business
  • Hotstar has seen declining subscriber numbers after losing IPL rights

Walt Disney has held preliminary talks with potential buyers for its India streaming and television business including billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries, according to people familiar with the matter.

The US entertainment giant has discussed a range of options with would-be suitors, from a deal for the entire Disney Star business to a piecemeal transaction that may include some combination of its assets including sports rights and regional streaming service Disney+ Hotstar, the people said.

Disney has been weighing strategic options for the business including an outright sale or setting up a joint venture, Bloomberg News reported in July after the Indian unit lost its streaming rights to the Indian Premier League cricket tournament to Viacom18, a tie-up between Paramount Global and Reliance. Disney had approached Reliance about potentially buying a stake in the business, a person familiar with the matter said at the time.

Discussions are ongoing and may not lead to any deal, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Disney could decide to hold onto the assets for longer, they added. A representative for Disney declined to comment.

A spokesperson for Reliance said the company “evaluates various opportunities on an ongoing basis” and will make the required disclosures when necessary, declining to comment further.

Though Disney Star has seen declining subscriber numbers after losing the IPL streaming rights, it hasn't ceded the entire cricket business, securing the television rights through 2027. Last year it agreed to license the TV rights for International Cricket Council men's matches to ZEE Entertainment for four years, with Disney+ Hotstar retaining the digital rights.

JioCinema, the streaming service backed by Reliance, netted a record 32 million concurrent viewers in May for the IPL final, which was free to watch on the platform. The venture has begun charging for some content on the platform after signing a multi-year pact to stream Warner Bros. Discovery's exclusive content in India.

© 2023 Bloomberg LP


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Further reading: Hotstar, Disney, Reliance, Jio Cinema, IPL
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