Reliance And Disney's Mega-Merger Likely To Command 85% Of India's OTT Space

Reliance’s Viacom18 and Disney, by merging their media assets, are expected to capture 85% of the on-demand streaming service audience and nearly half of the TV viewership in India. This mega-merger, aiming for completion by March 2025, will pose hefty challenges to global giants like Netflix, Amazon’s Prime Video, Apple, Sony, and Zee.

What to know? As noted in a TechCrunch report, at the heart of this strategic alliance is the exclusive digital and broadcast rights to some of the most coveted sporting events, including the cricket-crazed nation’s beloved IPL, ICC events, the FIFA World Cup, Premier League, and Wimbledon.

Cricket, a massive draw for streaming platforms in India, has seen Disney and JioCinema outmanoeuvre rivals, securing a treasure trove of cricket rights that leaves little room for others to lure in the cricket fan base.

See also: If You Invested ₹10,000 In Network18 When Reliance Bought It, Here’s How Much You’d Have Today

What do analysts say? Analysts from Morgan Stanley highlight the merger’s strategic clinch on digital and TV rights for key cricket events, setting the stage for a profitable venture. Viacom18 and Star have neatly divided the 2023-27 IPL broadcasting rights, with Viacom18 bagging digital streaming rights for a whopping $2.9 billion (₹24,046 crore) and Star securing TV broadcasting rights for $2.8 billion (₹23,217 crore). Last IPL season, JioCinema’s move to stream matches for free shook up Hotstar’s earnings, but with the new JV structure, a surge in profitability is on the horizon.

The merger doesn’t stop at sports. It will also serve as the exclusive Indian gateway to Disney’s cinematic universe and a vast catalogue of 30,000 content pieces, alongside being the digital hub for HBO, Warner Bros, Showtime, and NBCUniversal content.

Analysts from Bernstein predict this joint venture will spearhead the OTT market in India, capturing about 85% of the monthly active user base.

With Disney's Star commanding 41% of India's broadcast market and Viacom18's 8% share, the merged entity — boasting over 100 TV channels — will control roughly 49% of the broadcasting sphere, making it the dominant voice for the Hindi-speaking TV audience, as Bank of America analysts noted. This is a game-changer, signalling a seismic shift in how Indians will consume media and entertainment.

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