Entertainment network Viacom has acquired a 50 per cent stake in Prism TV for Rs 940 crore (or $153 million). Prism TV owns and operates regional entertainment channels in India, including ETV Marathi, ETV Kannada, ETV Bangla, ETV Oriya and ETV Gujarati, all of which were recently rebranded under the ‘Colors’ umbrella.
The transaction between Nickelodeon Asia Holdings, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Viacom, and Shinano Retail, a company effectively 100 per cent owned by Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings, was completed on July 31. The parties received clearance from India’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board earlier this month.
With this acquisition, Viacom will hold 50 per cent of Prism TV and the remaining will continue to be owned by the Network18 Group, Viacom’s partner in the Viacom18 joint venture. Viacom18 operates 10 channels, including MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and Colors, the network’s flagship Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC) brand.
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The deal gives Viacom a significant presence in the fast growing regional TV sector in India, where almost 60 per cent of the population (of over 1.2 billion people) speaks regional dialects as their first language. Collectively, regional TV stations account for the second largest share of viewing in the Indian market, behind only Hindi GECs.
Philippe Dauman, president and chief executive, Viacom, said, “We’re thrilled to be broadening our presence in one of the largest and fastest growing TV markets in the world, and deepening our already strong partnership with Network18. This acquisition is an important step in building on our leadership position in India, a key market in Viacom’s international growth strategy.”
A P Parigi, Group CEO Network18, said, “This acquisition by Viacom International Media Networks further strengthens the partnership with Network18 both in terms of depth and breadth. I am confident India will emerge as a global entertainment powerhouse in the year ahead.”
Bob Bakish, President and CEO of Viacom International Media Networks, said, “Regional TV networks – and regional ad markets – are the next wave of growth in India. Having a strong national and broad regional presence gives us a powerful platform to launch additional brands, and introduce successful franchises and formats across India.”
Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO Viacom18, said, “This acquisition is a big milestone for Viacom & Network 18 and it showcases their combined conviction to build a powerful broadcast offering for the Indian market. We are delighted by the transaction and the next growth phase for the companies.”