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Disney+ Hotstar Takeover Rumors: Who will Acquire Indian OTT Pioneer?

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Disney+ Hotstar is leading the way as the largest and smartest video platform in the country, reaching over 300 million users today. Disney+ Hotstar India is well known for its extensive library, which includes hundreds of films and shows. In India, Disney+ Hotstar has three subscription tiers: Mobile, Super, and Premium. Currently, Indian OTT Pioneer Hotstar is in talks with Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and other potential purchasers about selling its streaming and television business in India. Walt Disney is considering numerous possibilities for these firms, including an outright sale or the formation of a joint venture.

Exploring Strategic Operations
Disney has been exploring strategic options for its Indian operations, including an outright sale or the formation of a joint venture. Viacom is a partnership of Reliance Industries, Paramount Global, and Uday Shankar's investment business, Bodhi Tree Systems. Disney is now following Reliance's lead and broadcasting the ongoing Cricket World Cup in India for free, hoping to reclaim some subscribers even if it means surrendering money in the cricket-crazed nation of 1.4 billion people. OTT streaming has provided audiences with a new means of content consumption, and device independent viewing is the primary reason why consumers are increasingly transitioning from traditional to digital mediums.

The OTT platforms have gained traction in recent years, with continuous advancements occurring at regular intervals. The OTT platforms are focused on providing a wide range of material to users, with such services available as both free and paid content. Subscriptions to such media enable people to become premium members via membership plans and systems on various platforms. The arrival of OTT platforms has altered how consumers consume material, with innovations and developments resulting in access to additional films, series, and so on.

A potential acquisition might complement Maran's broadcasting company, Sun TV Network Ltd., while it could assist the Adani Group develop its recently acquired New Delhi Television Ltd. They also stated that discussions are still in their early stages and that any agreement may not be reached.

Dynamic Shift in the Market
The sale of Disney's India unit demonstrates how market dynamics have shifted since Ambani's company purchased the streaming rights to the Indian Premier League for $2.7 billion and elected to broadcast it for free earlier this year. Ambani secured another victory by securing a multi-year deal to broadcast HBO and other material previously owned by Disney.

Disney is now following Reliance's lead and broadcasting the ongoing Cricket World Cup in India for free, hoping to reclaim some subscribers even if it means surrendering money in the cricket-crazed nation of 1.4 billion people.

Disney, on the other hand, is set to benefit as major worldwide brands compete for access to India's vast consumer base, with advertising slots selling for $3,600 per second. Disney Star, which has exclusive TV broadcast rights for the event in India, announced Wednesday that it had partnered with 26 sponsors, including Booking.com BV and spirits company Diageo Plc.

According to Jefferies LLC data, cricket is by far the most popular sport in the South Asian nation, attracting more than $1.5 billion in sponsorship and media spending each year, accounting for almost 85 percent of all sports-related spending in the country. Even though Disney Star has struggled with declining subscriber numbers since losing the streaming rights to the Indian Premier League, the media company has not given up on cricket entirely, acquiring the television rights till 2027.

Disney, on the other hand, is set to benefit as major worldwide brands compete for access to India's vast consumer base, with advertising slots selling for $3,600 per second

There is no impending deal, and there is no guarantee of a sale while conversations are ongoing. According to reports, it evaluates various opportunities on an ongoing basis.

Since the completion of its$71 billion acquisition of Star India's parent firm 21st Century Fox in 2019, Disney has acquired Disney Star. A year later, it integrated the streaming service Hotstar with Disney+ in India, forming Disney+ Hotstar. Disney has recently reduced its Asian activities, deciding to terminate its remaining six linear TV channels in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea.

RIL’s Commitment in Extending its Footprint
The discussions between Disney and potential suitors, including Reliance, have included a variety of possibilities, such as acquiring Disney Star's Indian company or a merger of its assets, which include sports rights and the regional streaming service Disney+ Hotstar. There has even been talk of Reliance buying a stake in Disney's business. Disney is facing greater competition, particularly from Reliance Industries' streaming platform JioCinema, which has gained traction by providing free access to the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket event. According to research firm CLSA, the loss of digital rights for IPL resulted in a reduction in Disney+ Hotstar's subscriber base in India.

Viacom18, Reliance's broadcast business, has also expanded its programming offerings by reaching an agreement with Warner Bros for shows such as HBO and Succession. Viacom18, in which Reliance owns a part, has a strong presence in the sports industry, including digital streaming rights for the Indian Premier League and other prominent franchises. Reliance Industries has a history of media and entertainment acquisitions, having bought Network18 in 2014 and then integrating its media and distribution businesses under the Network18 umbrella in 2020. Despite problems in the media and entertainment industries, RIL remains committed to extending its footprint in this sector.

Disney, on the other hand, is set to benefit as major worldwide brands compete for access to India's vast consumer base, with advertising slots selling for $3,600 per second. Disney Star, which has exclusive TV broadcast rights for the event in India, announced Wednesday that it had partnered with 26 sponsors, including Booking.com BV and spirits company Diageo Plc.

The advancement of Internet networks and connection has also aided in the increased use of OTT platforms, where services are made available at low pricing. It has facilitated access to premium content by giving an enhanced experience across various content platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, Hotstar, Amazon Prime, and others. Because it plays a specific role in the viewership, one of the most popular topics on social media is how the online platform makes money.

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