Byju's, Disney tie up to create educational content for primary school

Byju’s founder Byju Raveendran. The firm is looking at global expansion with Disney’s help
In a move to boost its plans for international expansion, Byju’s, India’s biggest e-learning application, is working with media conglomerate Disney to create educational content for primary schools, said multiple sources close to the development. 

This would also strengthen Byju’s offers in the K-12 (kindergarten to Class XII) space.

This partnership would help the seven-year-old company offer courses for Class I to Class III students. 

At present, it does not have an offer in the said category. Byju’s began its journey by offering learning solutions in the Class XI-XII segment, before expanding its portfolio to Class IV. 

“Getting Disney onboard as a partner will help us put out better content on the app. While we have the subject expertise, Disney will complement the offer with its animation and designing capability to capture this market segment,” said a senior company source, who did not want to be named. 

Both Byju’s and Disney India declined to comment. 

Byju’s, which clocked sales to the tune of Rs 5.2 billion in 2017-18, gets 80 per cent of its business from the K-12 school, offering subscriber content on cellphones and tablets. The rest is from test coaching for entrance exams such as CAT, GMAT, JEE, and IAS, among others. 

Sources said Disney’s education lessons and branding will help Byju’s gain credibility and brand recall in international markets, where the company is in the process of setting up operations.

Byju’s is primarily looking at English-speaking markets and is at various stages of launch in the UK, the US and Australia. It recently set up an office in San Francisco.

“The product is aimed at international markets and might be offered as a separate app,” a source said. “The roll-out may happen in six months.”

For Disney India, the move is part of a strategy to diversify when traditional television viewership is falling and over-the-top platforms are eating into revenues. Disney India operates a movie production and distribution studio, kids TV channels and a merchandise business. The partnership with Byju’s marks the company’s entry into education.

“There is increasing cross-pollination between education and content. Content companies have always been in the business of learning, where a lot of content has been geared towards children for enhancing learning capabilities,” said Jehil Thakkar, a partner with Deloitte, who also heads the firm’s media and content business advisory vertical.   

In India, the chunk of the online education content is distributed through YouTube, apps and internet platforms. Tata Sky, a cable TV distributor, also has its own line of pay-per-view education channels for children.

Global content powerhouses are also looking at partnering with internet platforms for distribution. Take for instance, the $85-billion acquisition of Time Warner by US telecom major AT&T. The two firms are now said to be launching a streaming service in the US. 

“Children’s education is a lucrative category, and parents do not hesitate to pay for good content if it helps a child to learn,” said another analyst, who did not want to be named. “The US has Sesame Street, the longest-running education show that children grow up watching… Now even its branded merchandise is really popular,” the analyst added.

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