How Bob Iger Could Have To Follow Rupert Murdoch's Lead in Offloading Star India

In a move reminiscent of Rupert Murdoch’s strategic sale of 21st Century Fox to Disney in 2019, Bob Iger, the head honcho of Walt Disney Co., is reportedly on the brink of offloading Disney’s Star India operations. Why? The digital landscape in India is undergoing a seismic shift, and legacy media giants are feeling the tremors.

Almost like Déjà vu? Back in 2019, Iger was the one writing checks, acquiring Star India as part of the whopping $71 billion global deal for 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets. But the tables have turned. The catalyst? The rapid digital evolution was spearheaded by Indian tycoon Mukesh Ambani. With over 400 million customers on his 4G network and a growing empire that’s blurring the lines between content, commerce, and carriage, Ambani’s influence is undeniable.

The price tag for Star India, now branded Disney Star, hovers around $10 billion. Ambani, however, values it between $7 billion and $8 billion. If the deal goes through, it’ll align with Iger’s vision of streamlining Disney’s focus on its core offerings like theme parks and streaming services.

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JioCinema is going from strength to strength: For Ambani, this acquisition would be a strategic masterstroke. He’s already secured streaming rights for the Indian Premier League, outdoing Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and has been luring key executives from Star India. While Disney+ Hotstar enjoys the limelight with record World Cup Cricket viewership, the momentum is gradually shifting towards Ambani’s JioCinema.

The game-changer? Ambani’s ability to convert this massive viewership into consumer spending, leveraging his expansive retail network. Brands aiming for a national presence might soon find it challenging to bypass Ambani’s media and distribution stronghold.

While traditional TV remains popular in India, the future is digital. Iger, witnessing the changing tides and challenges in monetizing content in India, might just be taking a leaf out of Murdoch’s playbook: When the going gets tough, it’s perhaps wiser to cash out.

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Posted In: EntertainmentFintechBob IgerRupert MurdochSTAR Indiawalt disney
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