Reliance Industries and Viacom18 on Wednesday announced a strategic partnership with Bodhi Tree Systems. A platform of James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems and Uday Shankar, to form one of the largest TV and digital streaming companies in India.
A press release issued by Reliance said Bodhi Tree Systems is leading a fundraiser with a consortium of investors to invest Rs 13,500 crore in Viacom18, to jointly build India’s leading entertainment platform and pioneer the Indian media landscape’s transformation to a “streaming-first” approach.
Viacom18 owns and operates the suite of Colors TV channels and OTT platform, VOOT.
Reliance Projects & Property Management Services Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries which has a significant presence in television, OTT, distribution, content creation, and production services, will invest Rs 1,645 crore, the release added.
Bodhi Tree is investing $1.78 billion in Viacom18, which also counts Paramount Global among its backers, as part of the partnership, the companies said Wednesday.
The collaboration will also see JioCinema, an on-demand video streaming service owned by Reliance, transferred to Viacom18, the firms said. Reliance Projects and Property Management Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries, is additionally investing $216 million in Viacom18, it said.
The announcement follows Viacom18’s push to expand its focus to sports streaming. Late last year, Viacom18 bought rights for American basketball league the NBA. Reliance is also expected to be a major bidder for the upcoming cricket rights of Indian Premier League.
Paramount Global, formerly known as ViacomCBS, will continue to be a shareholder and supply its large catalog of global content to Viacom18.
The Wednesday’s announcement comes at a time when India’s entertainment and sports broadcasters industry is going through a consolidation. Zee Entertainment and Sony merged last year to create one of India’s largest media conglomerates.
Commenting on the development, Reliance Industries Ltd Chairman & Managing Director Mukesh D Ambani said, “James and Uday’s track record is unmatched. For over two decades, they have played an undeniable role in shaping the media ecosystem in India, Asia, and around the world.
“We are very excited to partner with Bodhi Tree and lead India’s transition to a streaming-first media market. We are committed to bringing the best media and entertainment services for Indian customers through this partnership.”
He further said, “Our ambition is to leverage technology advances, particularly in mobile, to provide meaningful solutions to meet everyday media and entertainment needs at scale. We seek to reshape the entertainment experience across more than 1 billion screens.”
Upon closing, Viacom18, in close cooperation with Reliance, Bodhi Tree Systems and Paramount Global, will shape a vision, strategy, and execution for its businesses, building on the strong existing foundation, the statement said.