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Reliance-Disney merge media assets; Nita Ambani to lead

The announcement of a significant joint venture between Reliance Industries, Viacom18, and Disney marks a transformative move in the Indian media and entertainment sector. As detailed, Viacom18’s media operations are set to be merged into Star India Private Limited, in accordance with a scheme approved by the court. This collaboration is set to redefine the landscape of television and digital streaming in India, focusing on both entertainment and sports content.

The appointment of Nita Ambani as chairperson and Uday Shankar as Vice-chairperson in the newly formed joint venture highlights a strategic move towards leveraging experienced leadership to steer the collaboration towards its ambitious objectives. The substantial investment of ₹11,500 crore (USD 1.4 billion) by Reliance Industries into the joint venture underscores the commitment towards the venture’s growth strategy, valuing the partnership at ₹70,352 crore (USD 8.5 billion) post-money, excluding synergies.

Ownership structure post-completion reveals a strategic allocation with Reliance Industries holding 16.34%, Viacom18 with 46.82%, and Disney with 36.84% stake in the joint venture. This structure, alongside the potential contribution of additional Disney media assets, subject to regulatory and third-party approvals, indicates a well-thought-out approach to leveraging the strengths of each entity.

The joint venture promises to be a powerhouse in delivering a wide range of content across entertainment and sports, combining iconic media assets such as Colors, StarPlus, StarGOLD, Star Sports, and Sports18. With over 750 million viewers across India and catering to the diaspora worldwide, the collaboration is poised to lead the digital transformation in the media and entertainment industry, offering consumers high-quality content anytime, anywhere.

This initiative is not just about amalgamating content libraries but also about delivering an innovative and convenient digital entertainment experience. The partnership aims to offer more appealing domestic and global entertainment content and sports live streaming services, thus enhancing the digital entertainment experience at affordable prices.

The exclusive rights to distribute Disney films and productions in India, along with access to more than 30,000 Disney content assets, enriches the joint venture’s portfolio, providing a comprehensive suite of entertainment options for the Indian consumer. This move is a testament to the strategic vision of Mukesh D. Ambani and Bob Iger, aiming to create one of India’s leading media companies that serve a broad portfolio of digital services and content.

In their statements, both Mukesh D. Ambani and Bob Iger highlight the joint venture’s potential to leverage extensive resources, creative prowess, and market insights to deliver unparalleled content. Uday Shankar’s comments further reinforce the commitment to delivering exceptional value to audiences, advertisers, and partners, shaping the future of entertainment in India and supporting the vision of making Digital India a global exemplar.

The transaction, expected to complete between the last quarter of Calendar Year 2024 and the first quarter of Calendar Year 2025, is subject to regulatory, shareholder, and other customary approvals. This joint venture heralds a new era in the Indian entertainment industry, promising to bring about significant changes in how digital content is consumed in the country.