Viacom18 Media has completed a deal worth ₹15,145 crore for strategic partnership with Reliance, Bodhi Tree Systems, and Paramount Global, the company said in a regulatory filing on Thursday. The development comes a year after the tripartite deal was announced by Viacom18 and Bodhi Systems, which is the content platform of media baron James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems and former Disney India Executive Uday Shankar, and a consortium of global investors including Paramount Global.

Reliance Industries has made an investment of ₹10,839 crore, whereas Bodhi Tree Systems invested ₹4,306 crore in the joint venture. With the comapletion of the deal, Reliance Industries OTT Platform, Jio Cinema will integrate into Viacom 18. In September last year, the fair-trade regulator CCI (Competition Commission of India) approved the merger of the Jio Cinema OTT Platform with Viacom18.

"Viacom18 has access to Rs. 15,145 crore of cash for its planned growth, comprising Rs. 10,839 crore contributed by RIL group entities and Rs. 4,306 crore contributed by Bodhi Tree Systems. Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar, is an investor in Bodhi Tree Systems," the company said in a statement.

As a consequence of the closing of the transactions, TV18, which is a subsidiary of Reliance Industries will have a 51% stake, Paramount Global will have a 48.9% stake and Bodhi Tree Systems will have a 0.011% stake in the joint venture, according to the regulatory filing. On a fully diluted basis, the Reliance Group entities will have a 60.37% stake, TV18 will have a 13.54% stake; Bodhi Tree Systems will have a 13.08% stake and Paramount Global will have a 13.01% stake in the new venture.

"The partnership will enable Viacom 18 to innovate and disrupt the M&E sector, with Uday Shankar and James Murdoch providing strategic and operational guidance to Viacom 18, leveraging their track-record of building iconic media businesses," Reliance Industries said.

Uday Shankar, who is the former president of The Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific has been appointed to the board of Viacom18. Paramount Global will continue as a shareholder and supply Viacom18 its premium global content.

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. 

Viacom18, which bagged the digital media rights for IPL has been in a fierce viewership battle with Disney+Hotstar, which has broadcasting rights. Viacom18 has acquired the non-exclusive rights to digitally stream 18 matches in every season of IPL Men in the Indian sub-continent for the seasons starting from 2023 to 2027. For IPL Women, the company has committed ₹951 crore between 2023 and 2027. For each match of total 22 IPL matches every year, Viacom18 will pay ₹7.09 for the next five years. 

The ongoing Season 18 of the mega Twenty20 cricket league saw IPL's first weekend viewership on JioCinema crossing the digital viewership recorded in the entire season last year, the company said in a statement.

"Viacom 18’s digital-focused strategy is already paying rich dividends with IPL’s first weekend viewership on JioCinema crossing the digital viewership recorded in the entire season last year. The platform set several new records with 2.5 crore+ app downloads in a single day, 147 crore video views on the opening weekend and a peak concurrency of 1.6 crore for the first match. This strong viewership was driven by JioCinema’s extensive fan-centric unique features like 4K feed, 12-language coverage, 16 unique feeds, hype mode, and multi-cam setup, among others," it added. 

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