Fair-trade regulator CCI (Competition Commission of India) has approved the merger of the Jio Cinema OTT Platform with Viacom 18 Media Private Ltd. (Viacom18), following investments by BTS Investment 1 Pte. Ltd. (BTS1) and Reliance Projects & Property Management Services Ltd. (RPPMSL).
RIL subsidiary Viacom 18, a major player in the media and entertainment space, broadcasts channels across genres, OTT video streaming through Voot and Voot Kids, produces and distributes feature films, and produces and licences digital content. It has also forayed into the sports genre, with the acquisition of media rights of marquee sports properties and the launch of 3 sports channels.
In April 2022, an investment company set up by media baron James Murdoch and former Disney India executive Uday Shankar entered into a partnership with Reliance Industries’ broadcasting business Viacom18 to form one of the largest TV and digital streaming companies in India.
As part of the deal, Bodhi Tree Systems, the content platform of Lupa Systems and Uday Shankar, along with a consortium of investors, including Paramount Global, had announced investment worth ₹13,500 crore in Viacom18.
Reliance Projects & Property Management had committed to invest ₹1,645 crore in Viacom18. Under this partnership, the JioCinema OTT (over-the-top) app was to be transferred to Viacom18.
Uday Shankar and Bodhi Tree would now become major shareholders in Viacom18. So far, Reliance owned a 51% stake in Viacom18, while the rest was held by ViacomCBS.
Viacom18 had recently bagged the digital rights of the Indian Premier League, for which it coughed up close to ₹23,578 crore (a 70% premium over the base price). The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) raised a record ₹48,390 crore by auctioning media rights for 410 matches of the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the period 2023-27, with digital rights exceeding TV rights for the first time.
Singapore-based BTS1 is currently raising capital from various investors, including sovereign funds, multinationals, and global institutional investors.
RPPMSL, a Reliance Industries subsidiary, provides IT, business and infrastructure, manpower support services, and erection and commissioning of telecom facilities. It also owns and operates the Jio Cinema OTT platform.
RIL's media and entertainment business posted the highest ever consolidated operating profit and margins in FY22. During FY22, RIL's Network18 reported a value of services of ₹6,831 crore (up 25.1% Y-o-Y) and an all-time-high EBITDA of ₹1,080 crore (up 35.7% YoY). as per RIL, the profit improved on strong operating performance, driving revenue growth across businesses. The total revenue stood at ₹5,880 crore in FY22, up from ₹4,705 crore during FY21, while the EBITDA margin improved to 18.4% in FY22 from 16.9% during the previous year.