Two media powerhouses – the Network18 Group and (Kalanidhi Maran’s) the Sun Network – have formed a joint venture called Sun18, for the distribution of a total of 33 channels across multiple carriage platforms across India, including Cable, DTH, IPTV, HITS and MMDS (Wireless Cable). This also means that the distribution of Network18 channels is now going to be done by a single entity (details of how things have changed below), giving it more bargaining power; remember that Network18 recently announced plans to consolidate its TV channel businesses into a single entity (TV18). For the Sun18 alliance, two new companies will be formed:
– Sun18 Media Services South Co, with Tony D’Silva as its CEO, managing the South India market (non Hindi-speaking-markets), and operated by the Sun Network. D’Silva was COO, Sun Distribution Services.
– Sun18 Media Services North Co, managing the rest of India, operated by the Network18 Group. This entity will have Haresh Chawla (Group CEO – Network18 and Viacom18) as its CEO & Director, and Rajesh Kamat (Group COO – Viacom18 & CEO – COLORS) as COO of Sun18 North.
The channels that will be distributed by the entity include CNN-IBN, CNBC-TV18, CNBC-Awaaz, IBN-7 and IBN-Lokmat from Network18; COLORS, MTV, Nick and Vh1 from Viacom18; SUN TV, KTV, Sun News, Sun Music, Chutti TV, Adithya, Gemini TV, Teja TV, Gemini News, Gemini Music, Navvulu TV, Kushi TV, Surya TV, Kiran TV, Udaya TV, Udaya Movies, U2, Udaya Varthegalu, Ushe TV and Chintu TV from SUN. Also being given to the entity are channels from the Disney India Network – The Disney Channel, Disney XD and Hungama TV.
Interestingly, this also indicates that channels have been moving out of the STAR-DEN alliance: In March this year, Disney had inked a deal with Sun for distribution of its channels; Disney channels have been added to the SUN18 bouquet. STAR-DEN was also distributing Network18 channels. The Network18 group has investments in DEN, founded by IBN18 Joint MD Sameer Manchanda. Also moving to SUN18 are Viacom18 channels, which were being distributed by TheOneAlliance (pdf), the Discovery-MSN/Sony joint venture.