Following NCLT’s nod, Viacom18 said it has completed the scheme of merger involving Reliance Industries Ltd. Bodhi Tree Systems and US media conglomerate Paramount Global
Former Star India head Uday Shankar has been appointed to the board of Viacom18
The announcement comes at a time when JioCinema is streaming the IPL for free and claims to have seen crores of new app downloads
Following the sanction of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) Mumbai, Viacom18 has completed the scheme of merger involving Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), Bodhi Tree Systems and US media conglomerate Paramount Global.
With this merger, the integration of JioCinema into Viacom18 has also been completed, the latter said in a release.
Viacom18 said it has allotted shares to Bodhi Tree Systems and RIL group entities as consideration for the scheme of merger.
Last year, Bodhi Tree Systems, an investment firm run by James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems and former Disney executive Uday Shankar, announced an investment of $1.78 billion in Viacom18. Meanwhile, Reliance Projects & Property Management Services was to invest $216 Mn in the media company.
Viacom18 said it has access to INR 15,145 Cr of cash for its planned growth, comprising INR 10,839 Cr contributed by RIL group entities and INR 4,306 Cr contributed by Bodhi Tree Systems.
“The partnership will enable Viacom 18 to innovate and disrupt the M&E sector, with Uday Shankar and James Murdoch providing strategic and operational guidance to Viacom18, leveraging their track-record of building iconic media businesses,” it said.
Former Star India head Shankar has also been appointed to the board of Viacom18.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) gave its nod to the merger of JioCinema with Viacom18 in September last year.
The completion of integration comes at a time when JioCinema is streaming the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) for free. JioCinema earlier claimed that it saw 5 Cr new app downloads during the opening weekend of the T20 tournament.
JioCinema also said it clocked over 147 Cr video views during the first weekend and attracted 10 Cr new viewers.
JioCinema is betting big on the Indian OTT space and the free streaming of the marquee cricket tournament is an attempt to ride on the IPL’s popularity to attract users.
Meanwhile, Jio Studios recently unveiled a slate of over 100 movies and web shows in multiple languages and genres which will be released over the next 18-24 months on JioCinema. This is an attempt by the company to help JioCinema consolidate the gains made during the IPL.
Viacom18 acquired the digital streaming rights for the IPL for a whopping INR 23,758 Cr for the 2023-2027 period.
As per a report by Media Partners Asia, JioCinema is expected to grab 60% of the total IPL 2023 advertising revenue. While digital advertising revenue will surpass TV advertising revenue for the first time, JioCinema’s advertising GMV could touch $330 Mn-$350 Mn.
It is important to note Viacom18 also has another OTT platform Voot. However, it is not clear yet if the company will integrate Voot with JioCinema or the apps will continue to operate separately.
The overall OTT ecosystem in India is dominated by players such as Netflix, Disney+Hotstar, and Amazon Prime Video. It also has domestic players such as Zee5, and MX Player, and regional players like Hoichoi and Aha.
According to a report by RBSA Advisors, India’s video OTT market is expected to reach a size of $12.5 Bn by 2030 from about $1.5 Bn in 2021 on the back of access to better networks, digital connectivity and smartphones.