Blackstone-backed US media firm Candle Media, founded by former Disney executives, led conversations between the two parties last week
Blackstone is the latest to join the list of suitors for Disney's India unit, as the entertainment major has been looking to offload its assets in the country
Disney is said to be mulling various strategic options at a time when JioCinema has entered the Indian streaming arena
Private equity firm Blackstone has held initial talks with Walt Disney to acquire a stake in the Indian arm of the entertainment giant, according to a Reuters report.
Blackstone is the latest to join the list of suitors for Disney’s India unit, as the entertainment major has been looking to offload its assets in the country via a sale or a joint venture partner for the digital and TV business.
Blackstone-backed US media firm Candle Media, founded by former Disney executives, led conversations between the two parties last week, the report added.
As previously reported by Bloomberg news, Disney has engaged in discussions with both Gautam Adani and Sun TV Network’s Kalanithi Maran. Additionally, the entertainment giant is said to have approached Reliance Industries as well for a potential sale.
Disney is said to be mulling various strategic options at a time when competitor and RIL-backed JioCinema has entered the Indian streaming arena. In the past year, JioCinema has snatched the digital streaming rights for marquee sports events such as the IPL, FIFA World Cup 2022 and the media rights for the domestic matches of the Indian cricket team from incumbent Disney+ Hotstar.
JioCinema has also broadcasted many tournaments, including the IPL, for free and has signed content partnerships with American studios such as HBO and NBCUniversal to emerge as the home of premium English content in India.
As a result, Disney+ Hotstar saw an exodus of over 20 Mn subscribers between September 2022 and July 2023, according to Disney’s filings for the quarter ended June 30, 2023.
Much of Disney’s troubles in India can be put down to its inability to compete with JioCinema, particularly in sports streaming. Having gained the rights to lucrative IPs, including the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and the IPL, JioCinema streamed them for free, amassing a significant user base.
Taking a leaf out of JioCinema’s book, Disney+ Hotstar decided to stream cricket tournaments, the Asia Cup and the World Cup, for free for mobile users.
While the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup seemed like the last weapon in Disney’s arsenal in the ongoing OTT war in India, the company now seems to have made up its mind to sell the complete or a part of its India business, including Disney+ Hostar.