While the Disney-Reliance  merger will rejig ad rates, experts are unsure if this is necessarily a bad thing. Advertisers are worried that the merged-co would rack up ad rates indiscriminately, especially as they wield a monopoly in live sports and linear programming. However, others argue that this is necessary course correction as far as pricing is concerned. Especially as the current ad rates are deemed too low to recover content costs for broadcasters and streaming firms. 

Right after the merger was announced, a report by UBS predicted that ad rates will rise by 20-25 per cent across the board. “Bargaining power of the broadcasters (now fewer and larger) would increase at the cost of the advertisers. There would also likely be some rationalization in content costs as well, leading to industry-level margin improvement,” analysts at UBS said in a note.

Dual prospects

Reacting to the merger, international advertising firm dentsu emphasised the need for 2-3 strong players in the media market to keep ad rates in check. “For the advertising and marketing sector, this presents a dual prospect of opportunities and challenges. On the positive side, it unlocks fresh possibilities for crafting and deploying innovative and compelling campaigns across an extensive and diverse portfolio of channels and platforms, providing us with extensive reach. However, it also heightens competition and enhances the negotiating power of the newly merged entity, enabling it to exert greater control over pricing and inventory. I hope that in the coming years, the merger achieves a balanced outcome. It’s crucial to maintain two or three major players in the market to foster a healthy and competitive environment, which ultimately should serve the end consumer,”  Harsha Razdan, CEO, South Asia, dentsu, explained. 

On the streaming front, a Disney-Reliance merged co might not necessarily wield a definitive monopoly, as Netflix and Amazon Prime will be able to hold their own against the merged entity. But the same cannot be said about live sports and linear programming according to Santosh N, Managing Partner at D&P Advisory. “Ad rates will certainly go up for sports and linear TV, but that might not necessarily be a bad thing. Moreover, Disney-Reliance cannot increase the rates indiscriminately, especially because advertisers will simply opt out, given that they have many alternative mediums for advertising.”

“The coming together of Reliance and Disney will create a very large and dominant player on the supply side. But we conveniently forget that the demand side has always had a very large and dominant Group M with a 50%+ market share. So a strong media entity will now balance the scales. Interesting times ahead!,” Sandeep Goyal, Chairman, Rediffusion, said.