TV18 ups stake, takes operational control of Viacom18


MUMBAI: TV18 Broadcast (NSE: TV18) and Viacom Inc (NASDAQ: VIAB), joint-venture partners in Viacom18 Media Private Limited Wednesday announced that TV18 shall take operational control of Viacom18. TV18 shall raise its stake to 51 per cent by acquiring 1 per cent of Viacom18’s equity from Viacom Inc. for a cash consideration of $20 million. The brands and content licence agreement between Viacom Inc. and Viacom18 also gets extended by ten years.

The partners believe that in the fast-evolving Media & Entertainment landscape in India, TV18 can drive value-addition and synergies across the multi-platform group comprising broadcast, digital, filmed and experiential entertainment and media businesses. Viacom continues to hold 49 per cent in Viacom18, and shares TV18’s vision for scalability and enhanced efficiency at Viacom18.

The development has implications in the Indian sports ecosystem for two reasons. First is that TV18 is controlled by Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd, which sees synergies in leveraging the content generated by Viacom18 on its fast growing mobile network Jio. 

Second is the fact that Viacom18 is making tentative moves into the sports arena. On January 19 E-Sports championship U Cypher launched on the network's youth channel MTV. 

That was followed up on January 30 with the announcement that Viacom18 had agreed terms with Discovery branded sports channel DSport to share the live telecast of the upcoming Nidahas Trophy 2018 cricket tri-series. The series hosted by Sri Lanka Cricket and featuring India and Bangladesh, kicks off on March 16.

Adil Zainulbhai, chairman - Network18, said: “The transaction further enables our vision for Viacom18 to accentuate its focus on excellence and integration in the broadcast and digital space. The entertainment powerhouse continues to be bolstered by Viacom’s global expertise in content creation and curation, along with Network18 group and affiliates’ strength across the media & telecom value-chain.”

David Lynn, CEO – Viacom International Media Networks, opined: “Viacom 18 is one of the fastest growing companies in India’s dynamic media and technology sector and, as a result of this transaction, we believe it will be even better-positioned for accelerated growth through closer integration and alignment with the Network 18 Group and its affiliates, including India’s fastest growing mobile network, Jio. Viacom remains strongly committed to our Viacom 18 joint venture with the Network 18 Group and we are retaining the vast majority of our ownership stake in the company. We’re delighted to extend our licencing deal with Viacom 18 and see clear potential to expand it in live events and recreation, in line with our growing global presence in these lines of business.”

Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO – Viacom18, noted: “We turned 10 last year and our growth journey has been exciting to say the least. None of this would have been possible without the support and commitment of both our partners. This development will allow us to leverage deeper synergies with Jio as we enter our next growth phase. As India’s youngest full-play media organization, we remain committed to winning the hearts of our audiences across all our on-air, on-line, in-store, in-theatre and on-ground businesses- and enriching the digital life of every Indian.”

What started out as a broadcast business with three channels – MTV, Nickelodeon and Vh1 – in 2007, Viacom18 today has 44 television channels across 80 countries in six different languages. It has also diversified into five lines of business, spawning broadcast, digital, films, merchandise and live events. Viacom18 has reported total revenues of Rs 30.407 billion in the financial year 2016-17, charting a >40X growth in topline since inception.