Sony to merge with Zee and take on Disney in India
Sony’s Indian unit and ZEE Entertainment may merge to what analysts say is likely to rival market leader Star and Disney India in terms of viewership and channel offerings.
The merged entity could also become India's biggest entertainment network.
According to ZEE, they have unanimously approved Sony's proposal in principle and have advised their management team to initiate the due diligence process.
Sony Pictures Networks India will hold a 52.93 percent stake in the merged entity following a proposed $1.58 billion capital infusion.
Shares in Sony Pictures Networks India soared by 30 percent on the announcement.
The new entity will be listed on the Indian stock exchanges.
The Indian entertainment market is already one of the world’s biggest, valued at $24 billion, while smartphone adoption could expand.
Sony and ZEE Entertainment operate 75 channels in English, Hindi, and 10 Indian regional languages, which reach 173 countries.
The two firms have a big opportunity in terms of synergies, with Sony doing well in sports, such as cricket, UFC, WWE wrestling, and UEFA soccer, and mainstream general entertainment channels, while ZEE has a strong recall in the regional genre.
Both companies offer extensive movie catalogs, for over-the-top web platforms and TV offerings.
The merger will also combine the two subscription-based streaming platforms SonyLIV and ZEE5--the biggest original digital content publisher in India, having released more than 75 original shows in 2020-21.