Zee in ‘final stages’ of merger with Sony


Notwithstanding the legal battle with Invesco, Zee Entertainment and Sony Pictures are in the final stages of sealing the merger deal.

Punit Goenka, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Zee Entertainment, said, “The Zee-Sony merger is not yet done, it is at the final stages of stitching up.”

On September 23, Zee announced that it had signed a non-binding term sheet with Sony Pictures, with the intent to merge. In the past few months, both enterprises have been conducting their due diligence for the prospective merger. Goenka also elaborated upon what the post-merger entity will look like at APOS India. Unpacking the Zee Sony merger deal, Goenka said, “Consolidation will benefit the industry.” According to Goenka, while Zee has been a market leader it must adapt to the changes in the sector. For Goenka, the creation of a consolidated media behemoth will enable capitalisation on huge opportunities in the digital and linear side.

Sports plans

In the aftermath of the merger, Zee does not have plans to renew its focus on sports, given its non compete clause with Sony. “Sports is going to be a major focus for the merged entity,” Goenka said, “With the merger, Zee’s sports properties which were sold to Sony, are coming back in a full circle,” added Goenka.

Goenka also said, “the decision of bidding or not bidding (into new sports properties) will not come from me, but the board of the merged entity.” Goenka also added that while India will continue to remain a linear and digital market for the foreseeable future; it is the market that is poised for growth. “Zee5 which is an SVOD first platform with 40-50 million subscribers, will see this number expand to 200 million-plus in the next five years,” Goenka explained. He also added that the 300 million monthly views on its digital platforms will go through 700-800 million in the next three to five years.

“While India mostly has AVOD (Advertiser-based Video on Demand) users, our strategy of being SVOD (Subscriber-based Video on Demand) plus will give us the leverage to fight competition,” said Goenka. Zee also has plans to launch 30 shows on its linear platforms. Furthermore, it will be launching 17-18 shows in its digital platform, Zee5 in Q3.

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