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Disney x Reliance merger and what it means for sport broadcasting and more

The nexus between Sports and Business.

It’s week 10 and the biggest news from Indian media this week is the Disney and Reliance industries’ merger of their Indian television and streaming operations.

The deal will give rise to India’s largest media empire, encompassing TV broadcasting, streaming, movies, and sports.

The deal is worth $8.5 billion and will see Star merging with Viacom 18. As per media reports, Reliance may own a 61% stake in the proposed merged entity, while Disney will hold 33%, leaving Bodhi Tree Systems with the remaining 6%. Disney and Reliance claim a combined reach of 750 million viewers in India and believe there is scope to cater for the country’s diaspora including sports as between them they have rights for the IPL, ICC, Premier League, NBA and many popular sports.

How will the deal impact on Indian media and consumers?

The merger of the Indian media business of Walt Disney with Reliance Industries’ Viacom18 will have a big impact on the Indian media and entertainment sector with lower tariffs for subscribers likely to come to a gradual end while the bargaining power of advertisers will be negatively impacted, according to experts.

Update 2

The second season of the Women’s Premier League is well underway and according to a news report, WPL is predicted to generate up to Rs 125 crore in sponsorship revenues for BCCI and its five teams. 

It is believed that the central sponsorships will generate an estimated Rs 50 crore, while team sponsorships could earn Rs 50-65 crore. In 2023, market estimates suggested that sponsorship revenues from WPL teams generated around Rs 15-20 crore which is a 50% plus increase in the budgets that advertisers are willing to invest in the league and its teams. Within two seasons the WPL has become a strategic investment for brands seeking to connect with the future.

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Update 3

After Ultimate Kho-Kho’s success in raining investments in their league, Prime Volleyball League, India’s first private sporting league, is in the market looking to onboard a strategic investor, as its valuation has more than quadrupled since its inception to over $90 million. Talking about valuations most of the franchises are valued at ₹100 crore– ₹125 crore too.

The league is just 3 years old and has attracted 18 sponsors and has increased in viewership by 55% in season 2. In their third season, they have onboarded Bollywood’s A List actor Hrithik Roshan as the league’s brand ambassador and he has also got along with his athleisure/lifestyle brand HRX with him as an official partner to the league is broadcasted in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam—and live-streamed on SonyLiv.

Update 4

UEFA’s top leagues will continue in India as Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) has renewed its exclusive media rights for the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, and UEFA Conference League. The deal includes TV broadcast and digital rights to about 1,600 matches featuring top clubs. SPNI plans to keep live sports, including football, behind the paywall on SonyLIV to continue driving subscription revenue. Industry insiders estimate the deal to be in the range of 40 million USD.

Update 5 

Indian hospitality tech firm OYO has announced their entry into the sports hospitality sector. OYO will create partnerships with 100 hotels across 12 cities, such as Delhi, Chennai, and Bangalore, to serve the needs of major sports gatherings. The sports hospitality business aims to meet the unique needs of large sports events with a focus on providing end-to-end solutions, including providing accommodation to athletes and sports officials participating in various sports events. Oyo will also partner with third-party vendors for travel bookings and to provide nutritious dining options for athletes. OYO has already successfully dabbled in providing solutions for 10 major sports events in 2023 like the Khelo India games and Khelo India University games. OYO will also provide services for differently abled athletes as part of their service.

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Nilesh Deshmukh
I am passionate about sports and passionate about marketing. As a sports marketer, I have built significant expertise in successfully delivering medium to long term digital marketing strategy for global sports entities and brands like Arsenal FC, Manchester United FC, Chelsea FC, Major League Baseball, Formula E, and AELTC, etc to engage with their fans in India. I am currently based in London and lead India business at Engage Digital Partners.