Disney Partners with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries to Form Media Giant in India

Disney and Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Forge $8.5 Billion Partnership to Dominate India's Media Landscape.

In a move set to reshape India’s media landscape, Disney has announced a strategic partnership with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, combining their digital streaming platforms and television channels to create a new powerhouse targeting over 750 million domestic viewers.

The joint venture, valued at approximately $8.5 billion, marks a significant collaboration between two industry giants aiming to capitalize on India’s burgeoning entertainment market. With Disney’s global reach and Reliance’s extensive presence in India, the partnership signals a new chapter in the country’s entertainment industry.

The agreement, finalized on Wednesday, sees Reliance Industries, led by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, taking a majority stake of just over 63% in the venture through its subsidiary Viacom18, while Disney retains the remaining ownership.

Mukesh Ambani expressed his enthusiasm for the partnership, labeling it as a “landmark agreement” that ushers in a new era for the Indian entertainment sector. With Ambani’s wife, Nita M. Ambani, appointed as the chairperson of the joint venture, the collaboration aims to blend Disney’s acclaimed content with Viacom18’s renowned productions and sports offerings, catering not only to the domestic audience but also to the vast Indian diaspora worldwide.

Disney CEO Bob Iger echoed Ambani’s sentiments, highlighting India’s status as the world’s most populous market and expressing excitement about the opportunities the partnership presents for long-term value creation.

For Disney, the partnership comes at a crucial juncture as it seeks to bolster its position in India following a series of setbacks. In 2019, Disney made a significant foray into the Indian market with its acquisition of 21st Century Fox, including the Star India network. However, challenges emerged, compounded by the loss of digital rights to stream the immensely popular Indian Premier League cricket matches to Ambani’s conglomerate in 2022.

Subsequently, Disney’s streaming platform in India, Hotstar, experienced a decline in subscribers, exacerbated by the cessation of HBO content streaming. Warner Bros. Discovery’s decision to shift its content to Ambani’s JioCinema further intensified competition, resulting in a notable drop in Hotstar’s subscriber numbers.

Despite these hurdles, Disney remained committed to the Indian market, seeking avenues to strengthen its foothold. The partnership with Reliance Industries presents a strategic opportunity to revitalize its presence in India’s vibrant media landscape.

As Disney and Reliance embark on this ambitious venture, eyes are on the newly formed media giant poised to shape the future of entertainment in India and beyond. With a blend of captivating content and formidable resources, the partnership sets the stage for an exciting chapter in the evolution of India’s entertainment industry.

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