With the government mandated digitisation process underway, the broadcasters are looking at consolidation in the channel distribution space
In the latest move, Raghav Bahl-promoted TV18 Group has entered in a step-down joint venture with The Walt Disney Company, wherein, the former's distribution bouquet IndiaCast and Disney UTV's UGBL will form a new 74:26 distribution alliance.
The joint venture will distribute 35 channels. Apart from TV 18, Viacom 18, A+E Networks, and Eenadu channels, DisneyUTV will also move its domestic distribution activities for entire bouquet of 9 channels to the new entity. The current IndiaCast management headed by Anuj Gandhi (CEO, IndiaCast), will manage the joint venture. The deal is to distribute the channels in India only, as both the parties will handle international distribution independently.
Incidentally, IndiaCast is a 50:50 joint venture between TV18 and Viacom18. Effectively, TV18 holds 75% in IndiaCast as it also owns 50% in Viacom18. With the deal, UGBL will hold 26% in the new bouquet, while TV18 will have 56% indirect stake. Remaining will remain with Viacom Inc.
The two companies said in a joint statement that the joint venture will become operational post the necessary regulatory approvals.
Gandhi said, “This partnership will build a strong distribution company that will offer a broader and more diversified range to platforms giving us a foothold across genres - including in general entertainment, general and business news, movies, youth and kids genres. We have had a great first year for IndiaCast and this JV will give our domestic distribution business scale and wider reach.”
MK Anand, managing director – Media Networks, Disney UTV said, “There are some clear and unique synergies in this partnership. The new bouquet is a more comprehensive offering from the viewer’s perspective that gives the combined entity an edge in the marketplace."
The new bouquet will have Colors as the flagship general entertainment channel. Among other channels it will have strong presence in kids genre (3 Nick and 4 Disney channels), youth genre (MTV and Bindass), and news genre (CNBC TV18, CNN IBN, IBN7 and CNBC Awaaz). It will also have presence in movie and music genre with UTV Movies, UTV Action and UTV Stars and niche networks like History TV18, Comedy Central, VH1, etc.