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  • Writer's pictureConnie Chan

Blackstone eyes Disney India stake.

Blackstone eyes Disney India stake.
Blackstone eyes Disney India stake.

Blackstone, the world's largest alternate investment firm, is reportedly in early-stage discussions with Walt Disney regarding acquiring a share in its Indian subsidiary. This move puts Blackstone among the latest contenders showing interest in Disney's holdings in the highly competitive Indian market. Disney has been exploring the possibility of either selling these ventures or finding a joint venture partner. Representatives from both Blackstone and Disney have declined to comment on the matter. According to sources, the conversations between the two parties were led by Blackstone-backed U.S. media firm Candle Media. Blackstone eyes Disney India stake.

Blackstone’s Market Footprint and Investment Interests

Blackstone is a multinational private equity firm with a strong presence in various sectors, such as real estate, private equity, hedge fund solutions, and credit. Blackstone's interest in Disney's Indian branch may be due to India's growing digital scene, which is attractive for investments, particularly in well-known platforms like Disney+ Hotstar. Investing in Disney's Indian branch could align with Blackstone's strategy of leveraging high-growth, high-yield sectors to generate robust returns on investments, and the possibility of substantial growth in India's digital entertainment sector could provide Blackstone with a strong position in a fast-changing market.

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Other Parties in Discussion

Disney has reportedly held discussions with Indian business moguls Gautam Adani and Kalanithi Maran, in addition to Blackstone. According to Bloomberg News, Disney is exploring various options, including selling a portion of its Indian operations or a combination of assets from the unit. However, sources familiar with the matter emphasize that these talks are in the early stages and there is no guarantee that an agreement will be reached. The report does not provide any information about the potential value of the deal.

Intensified Competition in India’s Streaming Landscape

The streaming market in India is highly competitive, with more than 40 services vying for a larger share of the market. According to a recent report, Disney+ Hotstar is leading the pack with an impressive 40 million subscribers, outpacing competitors like Netflix and Prime Video in India. Despite Netflix's efforts to attract Indian viewers with local Bollywood shows, it lags behind with only 6.5 million subscribers. The report highlights the astute strategy of Prime Video and Disney+ Hotstar in offering local content that resonates with the cultural preferences of the Indian audience.

Cricket Proves to Be a Significant Catalyst

Streaming high-profile cricket matches, such as the ICC Cricket World Cup, has attracted a large number of viewers on platforms like Disney+ Hotstar. This strategic move, capitalizing on India's passion for cricket, not only positioned Disney+ Hotstar as a market leader but also motivated other platforms like JioCinema to follow suit.

In fact, JioCinema, the broadcasting platform owned by Mukesh Ambani, outbid Disney by acquiring the rights to televise and livestream the national team's matches for a staggering $721.41 million. This acquisition, coupled with JioCinema's ownership of the digital streaming rights to the IPL T20 tournament, has significantly enhanced the popularity of Ambani's platform.

As a result, a considerable number of Disney subscribers decided to switch platforms. Out of the 61 million users in October 2022, approximately 21 million had migrated to other platforms by July 2023.

The intense competition for cricket streaming rights highlights the pivotal role of this sport in the streaming industry, leading Disney to explore various strategic options in India. This includes the possibility of selling or forming a joint venture partnership to strengthen its presence in the digital and TV sector of the region.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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