Disney is close to selling its India streaming business to one of its biggest rivals in the region. Reliance Industries, one of India’s leading media companies, is expected to take a majority stake in Hotstar, India’s version of Disney+, according to Bloomberg.
The move would provide an influx of cash to Disney as it looks at where to refocus its priorities and bring big money-losing bets like Disney+ into the black. The company has opened the door to the potential sale or partnership for once-core assets like its ABC network and even ESPN, although the company said it isn’t ready to make any major moves.
In the case of Hotstar, a deal is close to being finalized. One reason for the pause is both companies agreeing on how much this platform is worth. Disney believes Hotstar is valued at $10 billion. Reliance, however, estimates its value to range between $7 and $8 billion.
Another concern is that JioCinema, owned by Reliance Industries, airs the Indian Premier League cricket tournament for free, cutting into Disney’s growth rate by side-stepping the need for memberships entirely.
Hotstar, which Disney acquired in 2019, has been struggling to retain subscribers. The platform lost the streaming rights for the Indian Premier League and the national cricket team’s matches to Paramount Global-Reliance Viacom18 Media. It has been hemorrhaging members since, down 24% this quarter after losing 4.6 million the previous quarter.
In July, Disney said it was exploring options for Hotstar and initiated talks with Gautam Adani, private equity firm Blackstone, and Kalanithi Maran, owner of the Sun TV Network. Blackstone began preliminary discussions with Disney earlier this month.
Disney and Reliance Industries were not immediately available for comment. Bloomberg said Disney and Reliance Industries could reach a deal as early as next month. For now, both companies are keeping discussions under wraps.