Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) company Reliance Broadcast Network has inked a preliminary, non-binding Term Sheet, and entered into negotiation and due diligence process with CBS Studios International for forming a broadcast joint venture which will operate general entertainment channels across South Asia. It is proposed that both parties will own 50% equity in the joint venture, and that the negotiations would be completed within a month.
The BIGer Picture
It’s important to remember here that India allows 100% foreign direct investment in non-news television businesses, which is why the focus is on launching General Entertainment Channels. Apart from this Anil Ambani group’s financial services company Reliance Capital recently picked up 18% in business news channel Bloomberg UTV, pending approvals. Last year, they had launched a television production house Big Productions, and have also acquired production house BIG Synergy, headed by well known quiz master Siddhartha Basu. They also own Animation Studio BIG Animation and Film Production studio BIG ND Studio and Film Production House BIG Pictures. The group also owns DTH platform BIG TV, so carriage might not be too big a concern.
Thus, ADAG has companies in all major segments of the value chain – production, broadcasting and distribution. Of course, there have been reports in the past about obscenely big plans for 20 channels, around two years ago.
The Joint Venture formed will seek to launch launch English language general entertainment channels initially, and then expand to Hindi language and regional language general entertainment channels, and initially hold programming rights across India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Maldives and Pakistan, with the option of further geographic expansion on mutual consent.
Reliance Broadcast Network
Reliance Broadcast Network was previously known as Reliance Media World, and includes the following media and digital businesses according to a recent statement:
– Radio stations under the brand name 92.7 BIG FM: presence in 45 cities, 1000 towns and 52,000 villages, reaching over 200 million Indians; an alliance with Radio Dhamaal and Rangila FM, taking station count to 52 cities; 21% market share; Retail revenues of 28%; Annual growth of brand count at 6%
– Online and Mobile business BIG Digital: a fairly tiny piece of the groups digital foray, which includes the ownership of the short code 55454, voice services, social media marketing services, web site creation, leveraging Zapak and BIG Adda; has entered into a partnership with OnMobile to launch Mobile Radio services, which haven’t yet been launched, even though competitor Radio Mirchi has launched with Spice Digital and Bharti Airtel
– Out of Home (OOH) businesses under BIG Street: inventory includes marketing alliance with International Techno Media for 50 networked HD LED displays in Delhi; Line II of Delhi Metro; Chandigarh Transport Undertaking, including 267 intra-city buses; 100 bus shelters in Bangalore; Gantries and Cantilevers in Hyderabad, alongwith mobile vans
– Experimental Marketing under BIG Live: brand activations, events, rural brand programs, including BIG Ugadi Awards, and award functions in Bengali Music, Marathi, Hindi
– Consolidated media sales organization BIG Connect