Reliance Industries owned Viacom18 has entered into a strategic partnership with Bodhi Tree Systems headed by James Murdoch and Uday Shankar, with the partnership entailing an investment of INR 13,500 Cr in Viacom18, giving the company an estimate of 40% shareholding in the company.
The deal between Viacom18 and Bodhi Tree Systems is subject to closing conditions and requisite approvals and is expected to close within six months. James Murdoch was previously a chief executive at 21st Century Fox, and Uday Shankar had been the president of Walt Disney (APAC).
Backed by Qatar Investment Authority, Bodhi Tree Systems was first announced to be launched in February and is devised to invest in media opportunities in South-East Asia, particularly in India.
Mukesh Ambani, Chairman & Managing Director, Reliance Industries states, “James and Uday’s track record is unmatched. For over two decades, they have played an undeniable role in shaping the media ecosystem in India, Asia, and around the world. We are very excited to partner with Bodhi Tree and lead India’s transition to a streaming-first media market”.
According to reports, the deal has been executed with an intent to bid on broadcast rights for the Indian Premier League cricket tournament, whose broadcasting rights have been owned by Star India in recent years.
Star India had owned the rights for the last five years since 2017, bought for 16,347.5 Cr INR. BCCI has put out the tender for IPL media rights for the next five years – 2023-2027. It has been speculated that the broadcasting rights would experience a 300% rise from their base price and based on past bids and practices the amount sums to 45,000 – 50,000 Cr INR.
Apart from intending to bag the broadcasting rights for IPL, the investors also aim to build a leading entertainment platform in India with a particular focus on mobile, along with growing the Sports vertical, whose development has already been underway. In addition, the JioCinema OTT app will be transferred to Viacom18, according to a reported statement from the company.