Bodhi Tree Systems, the content platform of media baron James Murdoch and former Disney India chief Uday Shankar, has entered into a "strategic partnership" with Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and Viacom 18, and will invest Rs 13,500 crore into the latter, a joint statement said on April 27.
The partnership is aimed at building India’s leading entertainment platform and pioneering the Indian media landscape’s transformation to a “streaming-first approach", they said.
Viacom18 owns and operates the suite of Colors TV channels and OTT platform, VOOT.
"Bodhi Tree Systems is leading a fund raise with a consortium of investors to invest Rs 13,500 crore in Viacom18," the joint statement noted.
An investment of Rs 1,645 crore would also be made by Reliance Projects and Property Management Services Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of RIL, it said.
"In addition, the popular JioCinema OTT app will be transferred to Viacom18," it added.
The deal is expected to close within six months and is subject to closing conditions and requisite approvals.
Paramount Global, the media entity which comprises leading platforms such as CBS, Showtime Networks, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, Paramount+ and Pluto TV will continue as a shareholder of Viacom18 and will continue to supply Viacom18 its premium global content, it further stated.
RIL Chairman and MD Mukesh Ambani, while commenting on the decision to partner with Bodhi Tree, said the track record of Murdoch and Shankar in the digital media industry is "unmatched". They have, over the past two decades, "played an undeniable role in shaping the media ecosystem in India, Asia, and around the world," he added.
"We are very excited to partner with Bodhi Tree and lead India’s transition to a streaming-first media market. We are committed to bringing the best media and entertainment services for Indian customers through this partnership," Ambani further said.
Murdoch and Shankar, in a joint statement, said their ambition through the new partnership is to "leverage technology advances, particularly in mobile" and "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," they added.Disclaimer: Moneycontrol is a part of the Network18 group. Network18 is controlled by Independent Media Trust, of which Reliance Industries is the sole beneficiary.