The Indian branch of Japanese multinational Sony has agreed to merge with local competitor Zee Entertainment to create the country’s second largest entertainment network.
Over 75 television networks, film assets, and two streaming platforms will be part of the united organization.
It is on track to become a key participant in the fast-growing entertainment business in the country, competing with rivals such as Walt Disney’s Hotstar.
There are about 800 networks and over 900 million TV viewers in India.
These networks broadcast a wide range of entertainment, including sports, melodramas, and reality television.
Sony Pictures Networks India would hold approximately 51 percent of the merged firm, according to the deal, which was announced on Tuesday (SPNI). After a 90-day due diligence phase, it will be led by Zee’s Chief Executive Officer Punit Goenka.
The agreement, according to Mr. Goenka, is a “major milestone.”
According to an official statement, “the merged firm will build a complete entertainment business, enabling us to provide our consumers with a larger content option across platforms.”
Both companies have a long history in India and hold the streaming services ZEE5 and SonyLIV. They also have a large television audience, thanks to famous networks like Sony MAX and Zee TV.
Vanita Kohli Khandekar, a media and entertainment business expert, told the BBC, “It’s a tremendously complimentary arrangement.”
“Sony, for example, does not have Zee’s pan-India, small-town, and regional reach. Zee, unlike Sony, does not have a children’s or sports division.”
The agreement, according to Ms Khandekar, will also drive Zee to a global platform. “Sony, a $82 billion (£61 billion) conglomerate, has recently acquired the company. As a result, Zee is now a foreign firm, giving it a larger platform.”
Although the majority of Indians still rely on direct-to-home television for entertainment, the country is also a valuable location for streaming services looking to reach a youthful digital audience.
Streaming companies such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hotstar, as well as various desert television stations, have increased competition for digital programming in recent years.
According to experts, the Sony-Zee combination will ratchet up the rivalry even further.