Sony Pictures Entertainment, the global entertainment unit of Japan’s Sony Group, is in preliminary talks with Disney to acquire the media titan’s India assets, according to Business Today via The Mint (a paywalled publication.)
People familiar with the matter said the discussions are a contingency plan for Sony in case its merger with Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd., which has been in the works for almost two years, encounters more delays or falls through. Reports suggest that if delays on the Zee merger extend past December, Sony will advance talks with Disney.
A Sony-Zee merger would reportedly clear the way for a $10 billion entertainment conglomerate with over 70 Indian TV channels, film studios and extensive movie catalogues.
In September, it was reported that Disney was in the beginning stages of trying to sell its India streaming and television business. Depending on the buyer, the deal could include the entire Disney Star business or a piecemeal transaction with a combination of assets like Disney+ Hotstar and sports rights.
Bloomberg News previously reported that Disney was considering a joint venture or an outright sale of its India streaming and television business after the unit lost its streaming rights to the Indian Premier League cricket tournament to Viacom18 Media Pvt., a subsidiary of Paramount Global and Reliance. Disney Star still has IPL streaming rights through 2027, but reportedly has seen a decline in subscribers.
In addition to Sony, potential buyers include Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd. as well as billionaires Gautam Adani and Kalanithi Maran — owners of New Delhi Television and Sun TV Network, respectively. So far, discussions are ongoing and might not lead to a deal.
Disney and Sony weren’t immediately available for comment.