Facebook is considering purchasing a 10 percent stake in Reliance Jio, a major cell phone service provider in India and the parent company of popular music-streaming service JioSaavn.
The deal hasn’t yet been closed, and neither Facebook nor Reliance Jio has commented publicly on the matter. According to sources with knowledge of the negotiations, the companies had nearly finalized a contract before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic drew the corresponding discussions to a halt.
It’s unclear at this time when Facebook-Reliance Jio investment talks will resume. Presumably, travel restrictions and coronavirus concerns must pass before executives and lawyers meet again—at least in person. Today, India started a mandatory, apparently strict 21-day lockdown designed to limit the novel coronavirus’s spread and reduce its prevalence.
To date, doctors have diagnosed over 700 COVID-19 cases in India.
Reliance Jio, commonly referred to simply as Jio, launched its much-anticipated 4G cell phone services in 2016. Today, over 370 million Indians subscribe to these services, and Jio has branched out into the home telephone, internet, and television spheres. Reliance Jio is owned by Reliance Industries Limited, a Mumbai-based conglomerate worth an estimated $140 billion.
Notably, Liberty Media—which owns 71 percent of SiriusXM and a third of Live Nation—also possesses a five percent stake in JioSaavn.
It seems likely that Facebook has its sights set more on carving out a larger share of India’s highly lucrative market than pursuing music-streaming giants like Spotify and Apple Music via JioSaavn. The California company has expressed little interest in crafting a music-streaming service outright, but is the most popular social-media platform in India, with roughly 260 million domestic users to its credit.
JioSaavn, for its part, has garnered over 100 million monthly users; these figures, in coordination with the approximately 150 million monthly users boasted by Gaana, a competing Indian music-streaming service, have made it relatively difficult for Spotify to establish a substantial presence in the country. More than 84 percent of Spotify’s active users are located in Europe, North America, and Latin America.
Stay tuned for additional updates on the potential Facebook-Reliance Jio deal.