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Disney Is Trying To Salvage Its Indian Dreams

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The next three weeks could determine Walt Disney’s future in the world’s most populated country.

The Star India network was one of the crown jewels Disney (DIS) acquired when it paid $71 billion to Rupert Murdoch for most of 21st Century Fox five years ago.

With that mega acquisition, the Magical Kingdom acquired Fox’s business in India, obtaining a new audience of over 700 million people in the South Asian country, which is one of the world’s most active media markets.

However, Disney has not had the happily ever after it hoped for. In a late-year results call, CEO Bob Iger admitted that “parts of that business [in India] are challenged for us.”

The House of Mouse was hit most hard in 2022, when it lost the internet rights to stream the immensely popular Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket matches to billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s company.

The US corporation is now attempting to save its India ambition.

Disney and Ambani’s Reliance Industries are discussing merging their Indian media operations to build an entertainment juggernaut in which the Indian tycoon would have the upper hand.

According to Reuters, the corporations have hired lawyers and begun antitrust investigations into the merger. The Economic Times claimed in December that Ambani’s energy-to-telecom company would own 51%, with Disney holding the remaining 49%, citing unnamed sources. According to the Indian publication, the merger will likely be completed by next month.

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Disney did not respond to CNN’s request for comment, while Reliance declined to comment.

Disney’s search for a partner in the world’s fastest-expanding major economy came when the Burbank-based firm dealt with several internal issues.

The 100-year-old Hollywood staple, like its competitors, faces an uncertain environment in the United States, where people are progressively abandoning linear TV in favour of TikTok and YouTube. However, Disney has been particularly severely struck by movie office disappointments and corporate upheavals.

In November, Iger stated that the business is exploring opportunities in India but wants to remain there.

The lukewarm star
It’s easy to understand why. With its relatively free economy and large English-speaking population, India is a desirable destination for global entertainment enterprises.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government expects the country to soon become the world’s third-largest media and entertainment market, up from fifth place today. Disney was handed that market on a silver platter after acquiring Fox.

Star India had established its massive viewership by spending billions of dollars on broadcast rights to several of India’s most popular sports, including cricket, the country’s national preoccupation. In 2017, it outbid Facebook (META) and Sony (SONY) to acquire the IPL, one of the world’s most valuable sporting properties, for $2.6 billion over five years.

The network’s other significant advantage was its local content. Star India provides over 70 TV stations in nine languages in a country with nearly two dozen languages spoken.

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However, Disney has yet to seize the chance.

While its TV division is growing well in India, Iger admitted in November that the company was failing in other sectors. Its streaming app, Hotstar, has lost millions of customers since losing the IPL rights to Reliance nearly two years ago.

Hotstar took another hit in March 2023 when it ceased broadcasting HBO content. Weeks later, Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), the parent company of HBO and CNN, shifted its content to Ambani’s JioCinema, bringing dedicated Indian viewers of hit shows like “Game of Thrones” and “Succession” with them.

Aside from Ambani’s losses, critics have questioned Disney’s India strategy, particularly its aggressive sports expenditure.

The brand’s “entertainment assets would be attractive to any acquirer or partner …[but] … Disney’s India sports business has faced challenges.” According to Mihir Shah, vice president of research firm Media Partners Asia.

While Disney lost the internet rights to IPL matches in 2022, it retained the TV rights until 2027 for more than $3 billion. It also retained the rights to broadcast the International Cricket Council’s events until 2027 for an additional “staggering $3 billion,” Shah stated.

Financial troubles for the company will persist in the coming years, “largely attributed to Disney’s aggressive bidding in renewing rights,” he added.

The media conglomerate has also failed to fully capitalize on its streaming service’s “technical prowess” due to the loss of the IPL and “limited investments in local entertainment content,” according to Shah.

From antagonism to partnerships
The American company’s failures come when competition in India is heating up — the potential Reliance-Disney merger isn’t the only one being considered.

disney

Disney Is Trying To Salvage Its Indian Dreams

Sony and India’s Zee Entertainment have negotiated for over two years about merging their companies and forming a $10 billion conglomerate. The destiny of that transaction is unknown, but analysts believe such corporate marriages will be critical to gaining scale and competing with global streaming giants like Netflix (NFLX) and Amazon (AMZN), both of which have a significant presence in India.

“These potential deals are a sign that India’s entertainment industry is entering a phase of consolidation, where only a handful of players with deep pockets will be able to operate,” said Aliasgar Shakir, a Motilal Oswal Financial Services analyst.

In a November earnings call, Iger stated that Disney intends to maintain its presence in India while focusing on improving the bottom line.

Ambani, Asia’s second richest man, can help Disney accomplish more with his billions and media ambitions.

The combined business would be huge, with over 100 TV stations and two streaming services.

“It is too early to interpret this as Disney scaling back in India,” Shah said. “The contours of the deal are still unknown, but it is looking more like a partnership between Reliance Industries and Disney.”

It might also mark the beginning of a power couple that extends beyond the media, with industry insiders speculating on a joint push into amusement parks.

“We have to remember that both these companies have business interests beyond media and entertainment, and this partnership could be a start of something bigger,” Shah said.

SOURCE – CNN

Business

Walmart To Acquire Smart TV Maker Vizio For $2.3 Billion In Bid To Boost Its Advertising Business

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Walmart is paying $2.3 billion for smart TV maker Vizio to boost its quickly growing advertising business and compete with Amazon.

If the purchase is completed, Walmart will gain access to Vizio’s SmartCast operating system, allowing the retail juggernaut to offer its suppliers the opportunity to display adverts on streaming devices.

Walmart Connect, which provides marketers with access to Walmart’s large consumer base, has helped the company grow its media and advertising business. Walmart reported on Tuesday that its global advertising business increased by nearly 28% to $3.4 billion last year.

The developments follow Amazon’s announcement last month that it will begin charging Prime members $2.99 per month to keep their films and TV series ad-free, in addition to the $14.99 per month or $139 per year Prime price.

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What does Walmart stand to gain from a television manufacturer?

Vizio’s SmartCast technology has 18 million active accounts and has increased 400% since 2018. The firms claim that Vizio’s platform has over 500 direct advertisers and that ads now account for most of the company’s gross profit.

In recent years, makers of streaming gear, such as Roku and Vizio, have moved their focus to advertising revenue. Vizio established its Vizio Ads business unit in 2019, claiming to be “one of the few connected TV companies with the device penetration, consumer opt-in, and infrastructure to deliver meaningful scale.”

Walmart saw Vizio’s growing consumer base and grabbed the opportunity to develop its Walmart Connect business.

“We believe the combination of these two businesses would be impactful as we redefine the intersection of retail and entertainment,” said Seth Dallaire, executive vice president and chief revenue officer at Walmart U.S.

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Who else is ramping up screen advertising?

Other large streamers, such as Netflix and Disney, have embraced the dual model, allowing them to generate revenue from commercials while simultaneously allowing customers to opt-out for a higher charge.

However, in the ever-changing streaming industry, whether consumers are prepared to pay more to see fewer commercials when they already pay subscription fees, frequently for numerous providers, remains to be seen. Many consumers “cut the cord” and ditched cable TV because they were frustrated with their ever-increasing fees.

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How did the companies’ shares fare?

Vizio stock rose about 15% in the afternoon, reaching $10.96 per share.

Walmart’s stock jumped 3.1% to $175.66 per share after exceeding Wall Street’s expectations with its sales and profit on Tuesday.

Roku, one of Vizio’s primary competitors, saw its stock drop 6.4% by midday.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Sacked Twitter Staff In Ghana Finally Get Pay-Off

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X, then known as Twitter, has finally paid out the employees it fired from its African offices more than a year ago, according to the agency that represents them.

Most had just been with the social media network in Ghana’s capital, Accra, for a few months before they were let go in November 2022.

They had threatened to sue X for failing to pay the redundancy money they said they were promised.

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Sacked Twitter Staff In Ghana Finally Get Pay-Off

The corporation has yet to respond.

X previously stated that it had paid ex-employees in full.

Elon Musk, who took over the corporation in 2022, launched a large global workforce layoff, dismissing almost 6,000 individuals. He said he was losing more than $4 million (£3.5 million) daily.

The African contingent, which numbered fewer than 20, had only recently relocated to X’s new office in

Accra after eight months of working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Sacked Twitter Staff In Ghana Finally Get Pay-Off

Agency Seven, the organisation providing legal representation to the workforce, stated that it had successfully obtained a redundancy settlement and repatriation fees for foreign employees but did not indicate the payout size.

“They are very pleased to finally be able to get their due, put this behind them, and look forward to the future,” Agency Seven Seven spokesperson Carla Olympio told the BBC.

Last year, terminated employees told the BBC that their treatment at X had impacted their mental health and money.

“It’s difficult when it’s the world’s richest man owing you money and closure,” one of them stated.

They claimed they were initially assured that they would be paid to work for one more month while their contracts were being terminated. However, they were instantly shut out of their emails, and no more wage payments were issued.

Since then, the crew has reported a difficult battle for compensation.

Some had migrated from adjacent nations, such as Nigeria. Their contract was terminated, leaving them and their families stuck in Ghana.

In a rare interview with the BBC last April, Mr Musk revealed that the social media powerhouse had 1,500 staff, down from just under 8,000 when he bought the company.

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Sacked Twitter Staff In Ghana Finally Get Pay-Off

When the news of Mr Musk’s extreme workforce reduction broke, he tweeted that laid-off employees received three months’ severance compensation.

However, staff members in the Africa office claim they still need this.

According to Agency Seven Seven, X only started negotiating with the terminated African staff after the BBC publicised the news.

Last year, ex-employees filed a complaint in a California court accusing X of failing to pay at least $500 million in promised severance benefits.

SOURCE – (BBC)

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TikTok Faces European Union Scrutiny For Possible Breaches Of Strict New Digital Rulebook

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Why Buying TikTok Views is the Best Way to Maximize Followers

LONDON — The European Union announced Monday that it is investigating whether TikTok violated the bloc’s harsh new digital standards for cleaning up social media and keeping internet users secure.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive department, said it has “opened formal proceedings to assess” whether TikTok violated the Digital Services Act, which went into effect last year.

The DSA is a comprehensive collection of regulations to keep internet users safe online, including measures to make it easy to flag dangerous or unlawful content such as hate speech, provide users with alternatives to algorithmic suggestions, and prohibit adverts targeting children.

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TikTok Faces European Union Scrutiny For Possible Breaches Of Strict New Digital Rulebook

The commission is looking at whether TikTok is doing enough to address “systemic risks” posed by its design, such as “algorithmic systems” that may promote “behavioural addictions.” It added measures such as age verification software to prevent children from accessing “inappropriate content” may not be “reasonable, proportionate, and effective.”

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TikTok Faces European Union Scrutiny For Possible Breaches Of Strict New Digital Rulebook

“Minor protection is the DSA’s primary enforcement priority. TikTok, as a platform that reaches millions of children and teens, must completely comply with the DSA and plays an important role in the protection of minors online,” said Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, in a news statement. “We are launching this formal infringement proceeding today to ensure that proportionate action is taken to protect the physical and emotional well-being of young Europeans.”

TikTok has “pioneered features and settings to protect teens and keep under 13s off the platform, issues the whole industry is grappling with,” the business stated in a statement. “We’ll continue to work with experts and industry to keep young people on TikTok safe, and look forward to now having the opportunity to explain this work in detail to the Commission.”

The commission also looks into TikTok’s minor privacy policies, ad transparency, and whether researchers can access data.

tiktok

TikTok Faces European Union Scrutiny For Possible Breaches Of Strict New Digital Rulebook

The EU has designated nearly two dozen of the largest internet and social media companies, including TikTok, deserving the most intense scrutiny under the DSA and heavy fines if they fail to comply. The bloc is already probing Elon Musk’s X, formerly known as Twitter, for breaches such as failure to control the dissemination of illicit content.

SOURCE – (AP)

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