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Disney Plans To Back Off Sports TV In India


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ocal sources have disclosed Disney’s plans to scale back in pay-television and sport in the Indian subcontinent.

The plan is part of Disney’s global strategy to shift towards it’s OTT streaming services and self-produced entertainment.

Star India, Disney’s Indian pay-television unit; is the region’s leading pay-television broadcaster and leading sports broadcaster, and India’s biggest spender on sports media rights.

They hold the rights to the market’s biggest properties, which includes the Indian Premier League and Indian national cricket team.

Disney acquired Star, Fox Star Studios, and Hotstar in 2018 as part of Rupert Murdoch’s global media group 21st Century Fox.

They became the dominant sports broadcaster after acquiring the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) rights, the Indian Premier League, and International Cricket Council (ICC) rights, in their current cycles.

Star television channels are available across the Indian subcontinent and other regions including Southeast Asia.

Disney have also announced they will be undergoing corporate reorganisation; the aim of which will be to focus on direct-to-consumer streaming.

A number of senior executives have also announced they will be leaving Star India, including broadcaster’s chairman and president of Disney for the Asia-Pacific region, Uday Shankar.

Having played a major role in major sports acquisitions, Shankar was later joined in his decision to leave by four other senior Star Sports executives; including sports arm’s chief executive, Gautam Thakar.

Recent losses to the company have also been made by Star’s expensive sporting bets.

The company’s total Sports unit losses were reported to be around $165 million, with total revenues of $1.7 billion.

An anonymous source told Mint: “Sports is going to be a slow burn, there will be no pay off at least for the next 10 to 15 years.”

“It will be a challenge to make even eight to 10% of what was being made annually earlier and Disney is not the kind to play the valuation game without recovery,” the source said.

In spite of their losses, Major League Baseball (MLB) have announced a two-year World Series rights deal with Star.

Star’s sister streaming platform, Hotstar, recently also lost an estimated $75 million in 2019, and revenue of just over $150 million.

Since letting go of most of their senior staff, and spending less on content, Disney has dialed back their Fox Sports Asia-Pacific sports pay-television business.

The launch of Singapore Hotstar on November 1 was also announced; with the platform set to focus on cricket.

They will be offering free streaming of certain Indian Premier League matches as an introductory offer.

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