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Reliance, Disney to dominate Indian entertainment with streaming, TV assets

MUMBAI (Reuters) -Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries and Walt Disney on Wednesday announced the merger of their India TV and streaming media assets, creating a $8.5 billion powerhouse in the world's most populous nation.

The merged entity will have 120 TV channels and two streaming platforms, making its business much larger than rivals such as Japan's Sony, Netflix and India's Zee Entertainment in the country's $28 billion media and entertainment sector.

Together, Reliance and Disney will have over 750 million viewers across India and will also cater to the Indian diaspora across the world.

Below is a breakdown of their assets:

TELEVISION

* Viacom18, majority owned by Reliance, has 40 television channels, including Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and MTV.

* Disney Star, a household name in India, has about 80 channels and the brand is known for Hindi family dramas as well as Hollywood movies.

* Both companies' channels span general entertainment, sports, children's TV, documentaries and lifestyle programmes. They also cover several regional language programming.

* Viacom18 has the TV rights for domestic and international cricket matches run by the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Disney has TV rights for the popular Indian Premier League (IPL) until 2027.

STREAMING

* Reliance's JioCinema and Disney's Hotstar would have a combined library of 200,000 plus hours of content that includes television dramas, movies and sport events.

* Disney's Hotstar was the second-most downloaded video streaming app in India in 2022 after MX Player, according to a report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and EY.

* Disney's streaming content includes global blockbusters, movies from the Marvel universe as well as National Geographic documentaries. It streamed seven out of the top 15 most-watched original shows in India in 2022, according to a report by media consulting firm Ormax.

* Disney has the digital rights for International Cricket Council's matches in India until 2027, while Ambani's JioCinema now has the streaming rights for IPL until 2027 after outbidding Disney.

* JioCinema last year struck deals with The Pokemon Company to stream content and signed a deal with Warner Bros to bring more Hollywood and international content on its platform.

(Reporting by Dhwani Pandya and Sriram ManiEditing by Tomasz Janowski)

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