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Volume 7 No. 105
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Disney Picks Up Rights To Indian Cricket After New Deal With 21st Century Fox

Disney's deal with 21st Century Fox gives the world's best-known entertainment company "new advantages in India," such as cricket rights and local-language TV shows for the "fast-growing media market," according to Toonkel & Richwine of REUTERS. Through the $52.4B deal, announced on Thursday, Disney would be able to distribute its programming on Star India, the operator of 69 TV channels in eight languages, "as well as the popular Hotstar streaming service." Disney also would "gain global rights to professional cricket." MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Nathanson said, "It is an amazing opportunity to get into the best developing market in the world. But it is highly competitive." Global expansion is important to Disney because its largest U.S. network, ESPN, has been "losing subscribers as audiences migrate from traditional television to digital viewing." Star India is also "flush with cash." Fox projects it will earn $500M before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in fiscal '18, rising to $1B in '20. Macquarie Research analyst Tim Nollen said, "Star India alone is by far the most successful TV network in the fastest-growing country." For Disney, owning Star India could "give it an edge over competing content providers in the world’s second-most populous country." In a research note, Barclays analysts said that "new entrants like Netflix will need a lot of time to recreate" a service like Hotstar because of its sports rights and head start in producing programming in multiple Indian languages. Eros Int'l CEO/North America Prem Parameswaran said that global sports rights, particularly cricket, which Fox recently won, "should add to Disney's bottom line." He said, "In India there is religion, there is cricket and there is Bollywood" (REUTERS, 12/13).