Thematic Spotlight: India’s Reliance Industries Takes On Streaming and AI

India’s biggest company by market cap, Reliance Industries, is looking to expand its already extensive investment portfolio with significant forays into both streaming and AI over the past week.1

On the streaming side, Reliance has reportedly signed a binding contract with Walt Disney to merge media operations in India.2 Disney’s ‘Hotstar’ streaming service operates more than 80 TV channels in India and was the second-most downloaded video app in India during 2022, while Reliance’s ‘Viacom 18’ owns streaming rights to 38 TV channels including Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and MTV – should the two successfully merge, the resulting entity would easily become the largest streaming service in India.3 According to insider sources, Reliance’s media unit is expected to own at least 61% of the resulting merged entity, however the implications of this merger means the deal will likely face considerable anti-trust review over the next few months.4 More information on the exact contract details are expected to be released next week.

On the AI front, a group of startups backed by Reliance Industries and the Indian Institute of Technology is aiming to launch its first ChatGPT-like services in the coming month.5 The consortium, named ‘BharatGPT’, showed off the first iteration of its large language model ‘Hanooman’ during a technology conference in Mumbai last week.6 Hanooman will be capable of understanding inputs in up to eight languages, and seeks to improve upon the existing LLM formula by integrating text to speech capabilities.7 If successfully launched, BharatGPT’s creation will mark a significant step for India in the global race toward AI dominance.

Access India with NDIA.

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