Reliance Industries doubles down on media business; ready to take on Amazon, Netflix, Hotstar

The company is also planning to raise funds upwards of Rs 12,000 crore from financial investors, according to industry sources, to beef up the media business

Moneycontrol News January 26, 2022 11:23:20 IST
Reliance Industries doubles down on media business; ready to take on Amazon, Netflix, Hotstar

Representational image. Reuters

Reliance Industries is doubling down on the media business with a strong push to both broadcasting as well as digital media by inducting marquee investors and launching big-ticket investments.

The company is also planning to raise funds upwards of Rs 12,000 crore from financial investors, according to industry sources, to beef up the media business. Reliance will also invest its own capital into the domain.

With such a large financial war-chest, Reliance is ready to take on the likes of Amazon, Netflix and Hotstar.

Reliance has roped in Uday Shankar, former Star & Disney India chairman, and James Murdoch, as strategic partners in the growing media business, according to the sources. Both individuals will play a vital role in contributing to the growth in the media business, they said.

Moneycontrol has reached out to Viacom18 for comment and will update the article with the response.

Reliance’s disruption strategy will be similar to what it did in the digital services business with Jio.

While Reliance will be the largest shareholder, Viacom’s stake is likely to come down, according to sources.

This comes at a time when Zee Entertainment and Sony Pictures Networks India Private Limited (SPNI) signed definitive agreements to merge in a union that will create India’s largest entertainment network by viewership, with a a 26.7 per cent viewership share.

Current market leader Star-Disney has a viewership share of 18.6 per cent.

A joint venture of Network18, which owns 51 per cent, and ViacomCBS, with a 49 per cent stake, Viacom18 offers 53 channels and reaches to around 600 million Indians monthly.

However, Viacom18 has just started building its sports portfolio. It has picked up the media rights of sporting properties including the National Basketball Association (NBA), FIFA World Cup 2022, Italy's popular football league Serie A, Spanish football league La Liga, French football league Ligue 1, ATP Masters (tennis) and Abu Dhabi T10 (cricket).

Like the combined entity of Zee and Sony which has said that it will be dialing up its digital business, Reliance also has its eyes on growing digital as well. According to analysts, digital is the fastest growing segment in the media sector at 22-23 per cent.

Viacom18's streaming arm Voot follows the fremium model that offers free content as well content behind paywall on Voot Select which is a subscription video on demand (SVOD) platform. Voot Select that was launched in March 2020 managed to get a million subscribers on board in less than a year of its launch.

However, Voot Select has strong competition in the SVOD market where top players like Disney+Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix have around 46 million, 21.8 million and 5.5 million paid users, according to a report by Media Partners Asia (MPA), an independent provider of research, advisory and consulting services.

But Voot is building both its regional content as well sports portfolio which analysts say is the right content strategy to onboard more subscribers.

The platform recently launched its first Kannada web series. Ferzad Palia, head, SVOD and international business at Viacom18, which owns the video-on-demand platform had said that the series is the first in a robust list of regional originals that will drop over 2022. "Over the next 12 months, we will significantly dial up our regional language roster," he had added.

Disclaimer: Firstpost is a part of the Network18 group. Network18 is controlled by Independent Media Trust, of which Reliance Industries is the sole beneficiary.

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