Reports indicate that Disney is in preliminary talks with billionaires Gautam Adani and Kalanithi Maran, and several private equity firms, about selling its streaming and television business in India.
What Happened: As per a report by Bloomberg on Wednesday, Disney is examining multiple options, including the sale of some or all of its India operations. These discussions, however, are at an exploratory stage and might not necessarily lead to a deal, as stated in Bloomberg’s report.
In July, media reports suggested that Disney was weighing options to either sell or find a joint venture partner for its digital and television business in India.
Disney has been facing intense competition from Mukesh Ambani‘s streaming platform, JioCinema in India. Ambani, Asia’s wealthiest man, has been attracting subscribers by providing free access to the popular Indian Premier League cricket tournament and other cricket matches, which Disney previously held the digital rights to. The company was reportedly also in talks with Reliance for a possible sale.
Last year, Disney’s India streaming operations, which had the highest global user count, reported a loss of $41.5 million on revenue of $390 million for the fiscal year ending March 2022.
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Why It Matters: Disney’s potential sale of its Indian assets comes as the company struggles to maintain its market share in the country. As reported in August 2023, Disney+ Hotstar had seen a significant decline in its subscriber numbers for the third consecutive quarter, losing around 21 million subscribers since October 2022, largely due to the lack of cricket content, particularly the IPL.
Mukesh Ambani’s Viacom18 securing the BCCI media rights for the next five years in August 2023, could further exacerbate Disney’s challenges in India. The company’s decision to consider a sale or joint venture is indicative of a broader global re-evaluation strategy, as hinted at by Disney's CEO, Bob Iger, who emphasised that not all markets are on equal footing and some might see reduced investments.
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