After facing consecutive setbacks from Reliance in the past few quarters, now Disney is reportedly considering selling its Indian operations which include Disney Star Business – the streaming platform Disney+Hotstar and Star Sports. Surely, this shift in business strategy represents the surprising fall of a streaming giant.
Reliance gives tough time to Disney+Hotstar
Disney’s crowning gem in India, Hotstar has been losing its stunning shows and streaming privileges to Reliance one after another. Be it from being removed from Jio’s telecom packages to losing out on the hefty Indian Premier League rights to grappling with the sudden removal of world-famous shows from HBO, Reliance seems to sweep away everything. Reliance didn’t stop at that and took away the popular F1 streaming rights too.
Further heating up competition, JioCinema also joined the arena. It didn’t just restrict itself to broadcasting tournaments, but took a huge leap, broadcasting one of the most significant sports events, the IPL (Indian Premier League), completely free of charge. This wasn’t all, they even established content relationship contracts with famed American studios such as HBO and NBCUniversal, hence transforming itself into a hub of premium English content for Indian viewers.
A knockout punch for Disney+Hotstar?
Following these major transformations, Disney+Hotstar reportedly experienced a sharp decline in its customer base. An astonishing over 20 million punters reportedly unsubscribed from the platform between September 2022 and July 2023. Was this to do with the improvements in offerings from JioCinema, or simply a coincidental set of circumstances?
JioCinema’s future plans
The upcoming ambitious plans of JioCinema might create even more problems for Hotstar. The broadcasting giant plans to release more than 100 Indian films and television programs produced with an investment of approximately INR 2,000 crore. Is this a strategic move to diminish Hotstar’s influence in the Indian market?
Disney’s worldwide struggle
Meanwhile, Disney’s global performance hasn’t shown any promising upturn either. The present stock value mirrors its status of 9 years ago, indicating a visible stagnation. In contrast, its net profit margin took a shapr decline, from a robust 20% to a meager 2.5%, a drastic drop indeed!
“Despite experiments with woke storylines, failed to strike a chord with the audience, trying to digest the sudden shift from family-friendly narratives. Some of these attempts, such as Lightyear, Strange World and Elemental, even resulted in box office flops, shaking their family audiences.”
It has been under pressure to sell its Indian business after losing out on the broadcasting rights for the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament in June. The IPL is the most popular sporting event in India, and losing the broadcasting rights has been a major blow for Disney.
It is also facing increasing competition from other streaming platforms in India, such as Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. The sale of Hotstar and Star Sports would allow Disney to focus on its core businesses in the United States and other markets.
It is important to note that the talks between Disney and Reliance are still in the early stages, and it is not yet clear whether a deal will be reached. However, if the deal goes through, it would be a major development in the Indian media and entertainment industry.
Unsurprisingly, amidst Disney’s troubles, Reliance swiftly took over many of Disney + Hotstar’s subscription base in India, implying that Reliance may further dominate the digital streaming war.
As has been seen in the case of Zee and Sony, consolidation is becoming a trend in the industry. The question lies whether these two giants, Hotstar and Reliance’s JioCinema, follow this example and decide to join forces. Only time will tell.
Please, also have a look into : Viacom 18 beats Disney Star and Sony to acquire linear, digital rights for approx Rs 5,963 crore for the next cycle.