Reliance and Viacom18 has announced a strategic partnership with Bodhi Tree Systems, a platform of James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems and Uday Shankar, the former president of The Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific and former chairman of Star and Disney India.
This association aims to form one of the largest TV and digital streaming companies in India.
Bodhi Tree Systems and Uday Shankar will invest a stake of Rs 13,500 crore in Viacom18, which according to media reports should give it a 40% stake.
Viacom18 owns and operates a suite of TV channels and an OTT platform, Voot.
Furthermore, Reliance Projects and Property Management Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries, also has a presence in television, OTT, distribution, content creation, and production services. Reliance will invest Rs 1,645 crore. With this consolidation, the JioCinema OTT app, will be transferred to Viacom18.
In addition, Paramount Global (formerly known as ViacomCBS), a global media and entertainment company comprised of content studios, TV networks and streaming services including CBS, Showtime Networks, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, Paramount+ and Pluto TV will continue as a shareholder of Viacom18 and will continue to supply Viacom18's global content.
With this investment into Viacom18, Shankar and Murdoch will leverage the partners’ shared track record of building businesses and shaping the media landscape in India and globally.
Mukesh D Ambani, chairman and managing director, Reliance Industries, 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.”
Murdoch and Shankar, said, "We could not be more pleased to announce our new partnership. Our ambition is to leverage technology advances, particularly mobile, to provide meaningful solutions to meet everyday media and entertainment needs at scale. We seek to reshape the entertainment experience across more than one billion screens.”
The move comes ahead of the IPL broadcast bid for the next five years (2023-2027). The auction is expected to take place next month.