Media baron James Murdoch’s Bodhi Tree Systems announced on Wednesday that it will be investing around $1.78 billion (Rs 13,500 crore) in Reliance Industries’ broadcasting company Viacom18.
The investment is meant to create “one of the largest TV and digital streaming companies in India”, a joint statement by Reliance Industries and Viacom said.
Bodhi Tree Systems is an investment venture by Murdoch’s firm Lupa Systems and former Disney India president Uday Shankar. James Murdoch is the son of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch.
Reliance chairperson Mukesh Ambani said the strategic partnership will “lead India’s transition to a streaming-first media market”.
“James and Uday’s track record is unmatched,” Ambani said. “For over two decades, they have played an undeniable role in shaping the media ecosystem in India, Asia, and around the world. We are committed to bringing the best media and entertainment services for Indian customers through this partnership.”
Viacom18, a joint venture between Reliance Industries and Paramount Global (formerly ViacomCBS), owns and operates Colors TV channels and over-the-top, or OTT, platform VOOT.
Reliance Projects and Property Management Services Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries, will invest Rs 1,645 crore in the strategic partnership.
OTT platform JioCinema, owned by Reliance Industries, will be transferred to Viacom18, the statement said.
It also said that Paramount Global will continue to provide Viacom18 with its content. The company owns channels such as Nickelodeon, CBS, MTV and Comedy Central as well as films and television production company such as Paramount Pictures.
“We could not be more pleased to announce our new partnership,” James Murdoch and Shankar said. “Our ambition is to leverage technology advances, particularly in 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.”
In January, Reuters reported that Reliance was in talks with James Murdoch and Shankar on investing in Viacom18.