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Reliance is close to a deal to acquire Disney’s India business as Mukesh Ambani’s oil and telecom empire plans to expand its digital and television operations, according to a report.
According to Bloomberg News on Monday, Disney values its India business at about $10 billion, while Reliance values assets at $7 billion to $8 billion report said. A deal could be finalized and announced as early as next month, the report said.
Reliance said in an earlier statement that the company is constantly evaluating properties for acquisitions.
In 2019, Disney acquired 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets for $71.3 billion, a move significantly helped by the inclusion of Star India.
The deal was a key part of Disney’s global streaming expansion, giving the company broadcast and streaming rights to Indian Premier League cricket matches, a host of multilingual television channels and a stake in a Bollywood film production company. At the time of acquisition, Star’s Hotstar had approximately 150 million monthly active users.
While Hotstar continued to dominate the Indian video streaming landscape for several quarters, things have since softened as Reliance-backed Viacom18 gains popularity after it secured the five-year rights to stream IPL cricket matches for around 3 billion secured US dollars. Disney paid $3 billion for the same five-year rights, but to broadcast the content on television.
Reliance has poached many top executives and technical talent to expand JioCinema over the last year, stocking the on-demand streaming service with premium content from HBO and NBC.
Disney’s Hotstar, which has lost around 20 million subscribers this year as consumers flocked to JioCinema to watch IPL matches, is currently streaming the ongoing Cricket World Cup for free to mobile viewers and is hoping to win back customers. Earlier this month, it reclaimed the global on-demand video streaming record from JioCinema as the Disney streamer app attracted 35 million concurrent viewers to a cricket match. It broke its own record on Sunday during a match between India and New Zealand when concurrent viewership rose to 43 million.
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