Bodhi Tree Systems, a joint venture between Forget Systems James Murdoch and former Disney India executive Uday Shankar, will invest Rs 13, 500 crore in Reliance Industries Viacom18’s broadcasting business.
An investment company set up by Rupert Murdoch’s son James and Mr Shankar said on Wednesday it would lead fundraising at Viacom18 with a consortium of investors aimed at building “India’s leading entertainment platform,” the entity said in a joint statement.
Reliance Projects & Property Management Services to invest an additional Rs 1,645 crore, in a strategic partnership between Reliance, Bodhi Tree Systems and Paramount Global, which is committed to innovation and distribution in the media and entertainment sector in India, the press release said.
Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani said the partnership would help “India’s transition to the first streaming media market”. Reliance holds a 51 percent stake in Viacom18, with ViacomCBS, which recently changed its name to Paramount Global, holding the rest.
“James and Uday’s performance 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 the first streaming media market. We are committed to bringing the best media and entertainment services to Indian customers through this partnership, ”added Mr Ambani.
“We couldn’t be happier to announce our new partnership,” Mr Murdoch and Mr Shankar said. “Our ambition is to leverage on technological advances, particularly in mobile, to provide meaningful solutions to meet daily media and entertainment needs on a scale. We are working to reshape the entertainment experience on more than 1 billion screens, ”they added.
Indians are fast adopting streaming platforms including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, which have offered cheaper shows and local language content.
In addition to the “VOOT” streaming platform, Viacom18 runs several TV channels in India, including Nickelodeon and Comedy Central.
Reuters had reported in January that Reliance was in talks with Mr Murdoch and Mr Shankar about them taking a substantial stake in Viacom18.
Wednesday’s statement did not reveal Viacom18’s new structure but said that Paramount Global will continue as a shareholder and supply it with premium global content.
The transaction is expected to close within six months and is subject to the necessary closing conditions and approvals.