The Business Standard newspaper stated, citing people close to the situation, that Reliance Industries is allegedly in talks to buy a 29.8% share in Tata Play, a subscription-based satellite TV and video streaming service, from Walt Disney.

The possible transaction represents a calculated effort by the Mukesh Ambani-owned Indian oil-to-telecom conglomerate to increase the visibility of JioCinema, its over-the-top platform, and fortify its position in the country’s television distribution market.

Regarding this development, ET Online contacted Tata Play, but they did not reply.

The holding company of the Tata group, Tata Sons, now owns 50.2% of the shares of Tata Play, with Temasek, a fund with its headquarters in Singapore, holding the remaining shares. 

The Indian conglomerate that holds the largest share in the direct-to-home (DTH) company is in advanced talks to purchase Temasek’s 20% holding in Tata Play. This development was first reported by ET in October of last year, citing persons with knowledge of the development.

But no agreement could be made.

The first cooperation between the Ambanis and the Tata group would occur if the talks between Reliance and Tata Play are successful. It will also provide Tata Play subscribers access to JioCinema, Reliance’s streaming service. Disney had originally intended to sell its shares during Tata Play’s initial public offering (IPO), but after the listing was delayed, it started looking at other exit options.

Reliance intends to provide Tata Play users with access to its whole JioCinema video library after acquiring the share, according to people familiar with the situation.

Karan Taurani, analyst at Elara Capital, told ET Online, “I think if this is true, it does make sense for Reliance because they are already present on the MSO (multiple-system operator) side through Hathway and DEN, but they don’t have presence on the DTH side.”

In the current market climate, DTH—which has a more upscale client base than MSO in terms of ARPUs—is gaining market share from the MSO side. Therefore, DTH has a secured basis with the premium customer base, and that will be good for JioCinema to partner with and reach out to a wider subscriber base,” he added. Reliance, which offers packaged offerings, will also have less competition as a result.

The value of Disney’s ownership in Tata Play is presently being evaluated by bankers, according to sources cited by Business Standard. Even with its substantial market share, rival streaming services like Netflix, Hotstar, JioCinema, and Amazon Prime pose a threat to satellite television broadcaster Tata Play. Tata Play recorded a loss of Rs 105 crore on revenue of Rs 4,499 crore for the fiscal year that ended on March 31, 2023, in contrast to a profit of Rs 68.60 crore on revenue of Rs 4,741 crore the year before.