Disney CEO Bob Iger Shares Benefits of Reliance Industries Joint Venture in India

Bob Iger, the CEO of Walt Disney, is optimistic about the collaboration with Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) in India. He believes this joint venture will not only boost Disney’s profits but also reduce risks in the Indian market.

Iger highlighted that the partnership with RIL allows Disney to hold a significant stake in a larger media company while maintaining a strong presence in India. This move comes after Disney faced losses in its Indian sports business and a decline in Disney+ Hotstar subscribers due to the loss of Indian Premier League (IPL) digital rights.


The joint venture involves merging RIL’s Viacom18 into Disney’s Star India, creating a massive $8.5 billion media entity. Viacom18, valued at $4 billion, and Star India, valued between $3-3.5 billion, will combine forces in this strategic move.

Disney’s acquisition of Star India in 2019 for over $15 billion was part of its larger acquisition of 21st Century Fox. Star India, now rebranded as Disney Star, holds a dominant position in both TV and digital media in India.

Iger sees this partnership with Reliance as a smart move, expressing the importance of staying in India despite the challenges. He emphasized that aligning with Reliance, a successful company in the Indian market, not only benefits Disney’s bottom line but also reduces risks.

Describing the joint venture as the “best of both worlds,” Iger highlighted the advantages of having Reliance as a strong partner, given its status as India’s largest telecom company with significant media assets.

On February 28, RIL, Viacom18, and Walt Disney officially signed agreements to merge Viacom18’s media operations into Star India. RIL committed to investing Rs 11,500 crore ($1.4 billion) in the joint venture.

The ownership structure of the joint venture includes RIL holding 16.34%, Viacom18 with 46.82%, and Disney with 36.84%. RIL will have control due to its majority stake in Viacom18, and Nita Ambani will serve as the chairperson of the joint venture.

This collaboration will bring together TV and streaming platforms, including JioCinema and Hotstar, with a combined viewership of over 750 million in India and globally. Uday Shankar and James Murdoch’s Bodhi Tree Systems also own approximately 16% of Viacom18 and will play a role in the venture’s success.

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