With major cricket bidding rights on the horizon, Sony India and Zee Entertainment will combine into a media conglomerate in India if a proposed merger goes through — creating a formidable rival to Disney.
The proposed merger would see Sony purchase 53% of Zee with a $1.58 billion investment and control of a majority of board seats, while Zee CEO Punit Goenka would head the new company.
The new entity would likely be a competitive bidder for Indian Premier League rights, which will be up for grabs next year.
- Sony gained rights to the enormously popular cricket league with its 2016 purchase of Ten Sports from Zee for $385 million. Ten also held rights to WWE, the UEFA Champions League, and major events in tennis and golf.
- Sony held the IPL rights until 2018, when Star India won them on a $2.22 billion contract that runs through 2022.
- Disney bought Star, including its Hotstar network, in 2019 for $71 billion.
Zee funded the short-lived Indian Cricket League, which began in 2007 — one year before the IPL’s debut — and folded in 2009.
The merger still needs to be approved by Zee’s shareholders. Zee’s stock price spiked around 30% on Wednesday.