Disney is joining forces with Asia’s richest man to create a new media giant in India that says it will reach a domestic audience of more than 750 million people.
India's top conglomerate Reliance Industries and Walt Disney on Wednesday announced the merger of their India TV and streaming media assets, creating an $8.5 billion entertainment juggernaut far ahead of rivals in the world's most populous nation. Reliance, led by Asia's richest man Mukesh Ambani, will inject $1.4 billion in the merged entity, with the company and its affiliates holding a more than 63% stake, with Disney owning the rest, the companies said in a joint statement. For Disney, the merger follows its long-drawn struggle to arrest a user exodus from its bleeding India streaming business and financial strain caused by billions of dollars in Indian cricket rights payments, in another example how foreign businesses can struggle to grow in India.
The merged entity will have 120 TV channels and two streaming platforms, and is set to challenge rivals such as Japan's Sony and Netflix in a $28 billion media and entertainment sector set to be worth $100 billion by the end of the decade. One of the oldest media companies in India, Zee's businesses include television broadcasting, video streaming and movie production.