Dominance in the Media Industry: Reliance-Disney Partnership to Claim 85% of Streaming Market and Half of TV Viewership

Cricket match streaming has been the prime driver of new users for streaming platforms in India. By securing numerous cricket rights, Disney and Reliance have left rival services with limited content options to attract fans. “The 2023-27 IPL broadcasting now sit under the JV – Viacom 18 has digital streaming rights (won for US$2.9bn) while Star has TV broadcasting rights for US$2.8bn. Combined with about 8% of the TV market that Viacom18 assumes in India, the merged operations — which will feature some 120 TV channels — will command about 49% of the broadcasting market. In a statement Wednesday, Disney and Reliance said they will reach 750 million users in India with the merged entity.

The Indian media landscape is set to experience a major transformation as Reliance, Viacom18 and Disney join forces to create an entertainment powerhouse. Analysts predict that the merger, which is expected to be finalized by March of 2025, will have a significant impact on the on-demand streaming service market and TV viewership in India.

The newly formed entity will dominate the on-demand streaming service segment, capturing a staggering 85% of the audience. It will also have a strong hold on half of the TV viewers in the country, which poses a major challenge to competitors such as Netflix, Amazon’s Prime Video, Apple, Sony, and Zee.

One of the key factors contributing to this dominant market position is the exclusive digital and broadcast rights to highly popular sporting events. These include the next four years of the Indian Premier League (IPL), International Cricket Council (ICC) events, domestic Indian cricket, FIFA World Cup, Premier League, and Wimbledon.

It is no secret that cricket is one of the major driving forces behind new user acquisition for streaming platforms in India. By securing the rights to a multitude of cricket events, Disney and Reliance have left their competitors with limited content options to attract viewers.

“The combined new entity captures both digital and TV rights of key cricket sporting events in India, like IPL and ICC matches,” Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a note on Thursday.

This joint venture between Viacom18 and Disney also has significant implications for the broadcast market in India. According to Morgan Stanley’s analysts, the 2023-2027 IPL broadcasting rights now fall under the JV. Viacom18 holds the digital streaming rights, while Star has the TV broadcasting rights. This structure is expected to result in higher profitability for the merged entity.

Moreover, the newly formed company will also have exclusive access to Disney’s extensive catalog of movies and productions, as well as content from HBO, Warner Bros, Showtime, and NBCUniversal. With a library of over 30,000 content, the merged unit will be the go-to digital destination for entertainment in India.

Bernstein analysts estimate that the combined operations of Disney’s Hotstar and JioCinema will dominate the Indian OTT market, with an 85% share of the monthly active user base. This is a significant increase from their current market shares.

In terms of television viewership, Star, a division of Disney’s India property, commands 41% of the market. When combined with Viacom18’s 8%, the merged entity will hold a formidable 49% share of the broadcast market in India. The combined 120 TV channels under their umbrella will give them a strong command over the country’s viewership.

Analysts at Bank of America also noted that the two firms will have a dominant presence in the Hindi-speaking TV audience market, with an estimated 56% share.

In a joint statement released on Wednesday, Disney and Reliance announced their projected reach of 750 million users in India through the merged entity. With such impressive numbers and a strong market presence, it is clear that the merger of these Indian media assets will have a significant impact on the landscape for years to come.

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Zara Khan

Zara Khan is a seasoned investigative journalist with a focus on social justice issues. She has won numerous awards for her groundbreaking reporting and has a reputation for fearlessly exposing wrongdoing.

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