September 24 2021 ( updated Sep 25)The announcement on September 22 by Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL) that its board of directors at a meeting held on 21st September, unanimously provided an in-principle approval for its merger with Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI), will create a Rs 14,000-crore (Rs 140 billion) media behemoth. ZEEL is part of the Essel Group
The two companies have entered into a non-binding agreement to combine both companies' linear networks, digital assets, production operations and program libraries.
Sony Group Corp.’s India unit emerged as a white knight as Zee’s founders fought to foil a management change that the broadcaster’s largest investors demanded in recent days.As part of the transaction, Punit Goenka will continue to be the Managing Director and CEO of the merged entity.
Key to the deal is the $1.57 billion that will be infused into the new entity by Sony
The Sony-Zee alliance, will end up with some 75 news, entertainment, sports and movie channels in more than 10 languages, stands to become India's biggest player, with a market share of 27% outstripping that of Disney's Star India at 24%.
AnalystsKPMG estimated the television entertainment industry to be worth $10.5 billion in 2020.
Comment: Sajai Singh, Partner, J Sagar Associates:The synergies between Zee and "Sony may have inadvertently emerged in the 2018 controversy that surrounded Zee’s popular show India's Best Dramebaaz, a televised talent hunt for child actors in 5-12 year age group. Whether copyright exists in a format idea of a reality TV program or not; whether Scenes A Faire that flow from an idea are protectable; may be a separate discussion. What is clear is that these were two creative groups that had similarity in thinking and ideas and a merger will allow the expression of such ideas to be richly developed and enjoyed by the audience. The genre of reality television, as demonstrated by the recent Emmy’s too, is becoming increasingly popular; and, as a member of the audience, I am excited to see what this merger will evolve the genre further in India”.