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Disney explores options as India business falls

Tim Baysinger
Jul 12, 2023
Data: Company earnings reports; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Company earnings reports; Chart: Axios Visuals

Disney is exploring its options regarding its Star India business, which could result in forming a joint venture or an outright sale, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: Star India was a prized asset when Disney acquired it as part of its Fox deal, but the loss of hugely popular cricket league streaming rights sunk the business.

Details: Talks are at a very early stage, but Disney has engaged at least one bank about sharing costs to help its India business grow, the WSJ reports.

  • There is no word on any kind of price or value attached to Star India, though Reuters reported that at the time of the Fox deal, the India business had an enterprise value of $15 billion-$16 billion.

By the numbers: Disney was able to radically beef up its subscriber count when it integrated Disney+ within Star India's preexisting Hotstar streaming service in 2020.

  • At its high point, Disney had more than 60 million subscribers in the region, which was more than any other territory, including the U.S. It accounted for almost half of Disney's global subscriber count.
  • Yet the low cost of the service in India meant Disney was earning significantly less on those subscribers, with an average monthly revenue per user hovering around $1.
  • Viacom18 outbid Disney last year for the streaming rights to Indian Premier League, a widely popular cricket league, with that new deal starting this year.
  • Disney+ Hotstar has shed more than 4 million subscribers through the first quarter and could lose as much as 10 million this quarter.

The bottom line: It's no coincidence that Disney is looking for an off-ramp from India because it lost cricket league rights.

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