Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries and Disney are to combine their Indian TV and streaming businesses.

Disney is merging its Star India service with Viacom18, which is backed by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, in a deal worth $8.5bn.

3. Disney Reliance. Star

Disney is merging its Star India service with Viacom18

The combined firm will offer more than 120 channels, serving some 750 million customers across the country. It will bring together media assets across entertainment such as Colors, StarPlus, StarGOLD and sports such Star Sports and Sports18 as well as digital platforms JioCinema and Hotstar.

Reliance has agreed to invest $1.4bn (£1.1bn) to help grow the joint venture.

Reliance and its affiliates will hold a more than 63% stake, with Disney owning the rest.

Reliance is led by Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest man. His wife, Nita M. Ambani, will be the chairperson of the joint venture while former Disney executive Uday Shankar will serve as vice chair.

The joint venture will also be granted exclusive rights to distribute Disney films and productions in India, with a license to more than 30,000 Disney content assets.

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Disney acquired Star India in 2019 after buying its parent company 21st Century Fox. Disney has struggled with its Indian business since, particularly after losing rights to stream the Indian Premier League in 2022 to Reliance.

The companies said they expected the deal, which needs approval from regulators to proceed, to be completed at the end of this year or early next year.

Mukesh D Ambani, Chairman & Managing Director of Reliance Industries, said, “This is a landmark agreement that heralds a new era in the Indian entertainment industry. 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.”

Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company said: “India is the world’s most populous market, and we are excited for the opportunities that this joint venture will provide to create long-term value for the company. 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.”

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