Reliance Industries and Viacom TV18 have partnered with Bodhi Tree System, which is jointly owned by James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems and Uday Shankar, to form one of the largest TV and digital services in India, the company said in a press release on Wednesday.
Bodhi Tree Systems, along with a consortium of investors will make a strategic investment of Rs 13,500 crore in Viacom 18. Viacom 18 owns and operates Colors TV and the OTT platform VOOT. Notably, Reliance Industries will make an additional investment of Rs 1,645 crore in the venture.
“Upon closing, Viacom18, in close cooperation with Reliance, Bodhi Tree Systems, and Paramount Global, will shape a vision, strategy, and execution for its businesses, building on the strong existing foundation. Viacom18 is amongst the leading players in the core linear television business with 38 channels across nine languages and a pan India presence. The transaction is expected to close within six months and is subject to closing conditions and requisite approvals,” the company said.
Uday Shankar, who is the former President of Walt Disney and James Murdoch, will leverage the partners’ shared track record of building iconic businesses and shaping the media landscape in India and globally. Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar, is an investor in Bodhi Tree Systems, according to the press release.
Mukesh Ambani, Chairman & Managing Director of Reliance Industries Limited, said, “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. We are committed to bringing the best media and entertainment services for Indian customers through this partnership.”
Murdoch and Shankar jointly said, “Our ambition is to leverage technology advances, particularly in mobile, to provide meaningful solutions to meet everyday media and entertainment needs at scale. We seek to reshape the entertainment experience across more than 1 billion screens.”