Walt Disney Explores Partnership Options for Star India’s TV and Digital Business

According to a highly-placed industry source, global media giant Walt Disney Co is currently exploring options to find a partner for the TV and digital business of Star India. The discussions, which are at an early stage, are taking place at Walt Disney’s headquarters, indicating the company’s efforts to address the challenges faced by Star India following a disappointing performance in the recently concluded IPL.While Walt Disney India declined to comment on the matter, some initial talks have reportedly occurred regarding the potential joint venture partner or sale of the business. The aim is to find the right partner for Star India, which has faced difficulties after losing the streaming rights for the IPL to Viacom 18. Viacom 18, a joint venture between Reliance Industries and Paramount, streamed all matches on its OTT platform JioCinema, negatively impacting the subscriber base of Star India’s OTT platform Disney+ Hotstar in India.The auction for the 2023-27 cycle of the IPL saw BCCI selling the broadcast rights for a staggering amount of Rs 48,390 crore. Disney Star secured the television rights for the Indian subcontinent for Rs 23,575 crore, while Viacom18 acquired the digital rights for Rs 20,500 crore. The loss of streaming rights dealt a blow to Disney+ Hotstar’s position in the Indian market.Walt Disney’s India business currently includes a portfolio of Star India channels and the OTT platform Disney+ Hotstar, which came under Disney’s umbrella after the acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets in 2019.Earlier reports from the Wall Street Journal highlighted that Walt Disney is considering strategic options for its Star India business, such as a joint venture or sale. This indicates the challenges faced by one of the premier properties acquired from Fox. The company has reportedly engaged with at least one bank to explore possibilities for helping the Indian business grow while sharing some of the costs.As Disney continues to navigate the rapidly evolving media landscape in India, finding the right partner for Star India’s TV and digital business could help drive growth and overcome the challenges posed by the loss of streaming rights in the IPL. The exploration of strategic options demonstrates Disney’s commitment to finding innovative solutions to leverage Star India’s potential and maintain its position in the Indian market.Overall, the potential partnership or sale of Star India’s TV and digital business signifies Walt Disney’s dedication to adapt to market dynamics and strengthen its presence in India’s media and entertainment industry. By collaborating with the right partner, the company aims to enhance the offerings of Star India and solidify its position in the competitive Indian market.

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