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Reliance, Disney announces $8.5 billion joint venture in India

Nita M. Ambani is slated to head the Reliance-Disney JV as the Chairperson, with Uday Shankar as Vice Chairperson.

Disney Reliance Merger OTT

Reliance Industries Limited, Viacom18, and The Walt Disney Company on Wednesday announced a joint venture in India in a transaction that values $8.5 billion, excluding synergies. As part of this merger, media entity of Viacom18 and Star India will be merged via a court-approved scheme of arrangement, according to a press release.

“We have always respected Disney as the best media group globally and are very excited at forming this strategic joint venture that will help us pool our extensive resources, creative prowess, and market insights to deliver unparalleled content at affordable prices to audiences across the nation. We welcome Disney as a key partner of Reliance group,” RIL’s Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh D. Ambani said.

The Indian conglomerate, RIL, has committed to infusing $ 1.4 billion. American Entertainment behemoth Disney will provide content license to the Joint Venture and may further contribute certain additional media assets, subject to regulatory and third-party approvals.

The joint entity will be controlled by RIL with an ownership distribution of 16.34% by RIL, 46.82% by Viacom18, and 36.84% by Disney. Nita M. Ambani is slated to head the JV as the Chairperson, with Uday Shankar as Vice Chairperson. This strategic joint venture, subject to regulatory, shareholder, and customary approvals, is anticipated to complete in the last quarter of calendar year 2024 or the first quarter of calendar year 2025.

The JV is said to revolutionize the entertainment and sports broadcasting sphere in India, amalgamating iconic media assets like Colors, StarPlus, StarGOLD, Star Sports and Sports18; and offering access to a plethora of events across television and digital platforms through JioCinema and Hotstar. Boasting over 750 million viewers domestically and extending its reach to the Indian diaspora globally, the venture aspires to lead the digital transformation in the industry.

The venture aims to offer an innovative, digital-focused entertainment experience, blending Disney’s acclaimed films and shows with Viacom18’s renowned productions and sports offerings, thereby delivering a compelling suite of entertainment options to the Indian consumer. Additionally, exclusive rights to distribute Disney films and productions in India will also be granted to the the JV, with a license to more than 30,000 Disney content assets.

“Reliance has a deep understanding of the Indian market and consumer, and together we will create one of the country’s leading media companies, allowing us to better serve consumers with a broad portfolio of digital services and entertainment and sports content,” Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company Bob Iger said.

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