Former Disney India Head, Mahesh Samat is raising funds from angel investors including Anand Mahindra and Mukesh Ambani for Epic TV which is a niche entertainment channel set up in October 2012, reports Economic Times.
The report states that following this investment, Mahindra and Ambani each hold 25.8% stake in the company while Samat has a stake of 48.5% stake in the company. While the investment amount remained undisclosed, the report cites sources to peg the investment at Rs 100 crore. Reliance spokesperson told the publication that Ambani’s investment is being done in his personal capacity and is being routed through Reliance Ports and Terminal Ltd.
Ravina Kohli, former creative head at Yash Raj Television, is heading development and former BIG CBS business head Aparna Pandey is taking care of the content, the publication had reported earlier.
Prior to starting Epic TV Network, Samat was the Managing Director of Disney India for 4 years before resigning from the company in January 2012. He has also held key positions in Johnson & Johnson including Managing Director, Southern Europe and Vice-President, Asia Pacific.
Content: Epic TV will showcase content related to history, folklore and mythology, as per the report. Samat is working on creating Intellectual Properties (IP) for the channel that can be leveraged across other media like publishing, live events, theatre and syndication. The channel will be available only to direct-to-home (DTH) and digital TV subscribers.
It looks like Epic TV is banking largely on the cable digitization happening in the country and so are its investors who already have a presence in the media & entertainment industry.
RIL’s TV18 divestment: Previously, in January 2012, Reliance Industries (RIL) had divested a part of its interest in ETV Channels to TV18 Broadcast Limited. TV18 and Network18 had funded the acquisition through a consolidated Rs 5400 crore rights issue, a part of which is being subscribed to Network18 Promoters backed by RIL backed Independent Media Trust. This divestment was aimed at securing preferential access to Network18′s content from all its media and web properties and TV18′s programming and digital content of all its broadcasting channels for its 4G service.
Mukesh Ambani’s brother owns Anil owns Reliance Big Entertainment which runs several digital businesses including BIGFlix, Zapak, BIGADDA, Jump Games, BIG Digital and Talenthouse. Although a personal investment, Ambani’s investment could be useful to his digital businesses considering that Samat is looking t create IPs to be used across different verticals. It is worth noting that Reliance Digital TV, Anil Ambani’s DTH business, is reportedly planning to sell 80% of its stake to Sun TV’s Direct-to-Home business, Sun Direct.
Mumbai Mantra is Mahindra Group’s media & entertainment vertical that has been looking for opportunities in the domestic and international media and entertainment space. It is not clear if Anand Mahindra’s investment has been routed through this company.
Update: edited to correct factual inaccuracies. Thanks for pointing these out.