Disney in discussions with Adani, Sun TV to sell Indian assets: Report
Disney has been evaluating strategic possibilities for its Indian business, including an outright sale or the establishment of a joint venture.
US entertainment giant Walt Disney is in early-stage talks with potential buyers for its streaming and television business in India, potentially involving billionaires Gautam Adani and Sun Group's Kalanithi Maran.
As reported by Bloomberg, senior executives from the US entertainment giant have gauged the interest of private equity funds. The evaluation comes as the company explores various options, potentially entailing the sale of a portion of its Indian operations or a combination of unit assets, including sports rights and the regional streaming service Disney+ Hotstar.
The media house reported discussions of asset sales with, controlled by Asia's wealthiest individual, Mukesh Ambani. Disney has been evaluating strategic possibilities for its Indian business, including an outright sale or the establishment of a joint venture. This assessment came after the unit lost its streaming rights for the Indian Premier League cricket tournament to Viacom18 Media.
Viacom18 is a joint venture involving Reliance, Paramount Global and Uday Shankar’s investment firm Bodhi Tree Systems.
YourStory sent queries to relevant parties and is awaiting a response.
The acquisition under consideration could potentially complement Maran's broadcasting company, Sun TV Network. Meanwhile, it might also aid the in expanding its recently acquired New Delhi Television Ltd (NDTV). The sources, however, underlined that these discussions are in a very early stage, and there's no certainty that a deal will happen.
The ongoing discussions on the potential sale of Disney's India unit highlight the shifts in market dynamics following Ambani's conglomerate securing the streaming rights to the Indian Premier League for a substantial $2.7 billion and deciding to offer it for free earlier this year. Ambani then secured a multi-year agreement to broadcast Warner Bros Discovery's HBO and other content that was previously held by Disney.
In a strategic move using Reliance's playbook, Disney is now streaming the ongoing Cricket World Cup in India for free. This bold move is aimed at regaining subscribers, even if it requires sacrificing revenue in the cricket-frenzied nation.
However, Disney is expected to receive a boost as marquee international brands seek to tap India's extensive consumer base. Advertising slots for the ongoing Cricket World Cup are being sold at a significant rate of $3,600 per second.
Disney Star, the entity holding exclusive TV broadcast rights for the event in India, recently announced partnerships with 26 sponsors, featuring major names such as Booking.com BV and liquor company Diageo Plc in a statement.
According to Jefferies LLC research, cricket dominates sports spending in India, drawing over $1.5 billion in annual sponsorship and media expenditures—comprising about 85% of all sports-related spending in the country. Despite challenges with subscriber numbers, Disney Star holds television rights for cricket through 2027.
Edited by Kanishk Singh