Adani, Ambani Prepare For Battle With Netflix, Amazon
Two of Asia’s richest men – Gautam Adani and Mukesh Ambani – are doubling down on India’s media sector, intensifying competition in a region where even Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. are vying for more than a billion viewers.
Viacom18 Media Pvt, Ambani’s local joint venture with Paramount Global, will receive 135 billion rupees ($1.8 billion) in a funding round led by James Murdoch-backed Bodhi Tree Systems. The tycoon’s flagship company Adani Enterprises Ltd separately said it has set up a new media subsidiary, indicating its ambitions to tap the growing market.
The investment of Viacom18 and the entry of Adani into the media mark a new phase in the battle for audiences and content in a market with a strong local film industry, a growing middle class, and fast access to the Internet. But it has also proven to be a tough market. For example, Netflix has cut its fees to lure in price-conscious users while struggling to add subscribers.
Still, India remains the only full-scale, high-growth opportunity in Asia outside China, said Vivek Kuto, executive director, Media Partners Asia. “Indonesia is too, but it is still a few pegs below scalability.”
Reliance shares climbed 1.5% in Mumbai on Thursday. tV18 Broadcast Ltd fell 18%, while Network18 fell 20%.
While Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd. is expanding its footprint in the Indian media space through its Network18 Media and Investments Ltd., Adani is just getting started. Last month, Adani Media Ventures Ltd agreed to buy Quintillion Business Media Pvt. Quintilian was an Indian partner of Bloomberg News’ parent Bloomberg LP.
With $1.8 billion from Bodhi Tree and an additional $216 million from Reliance, Viacom18 is preparing for an epic faceoff with Disney, Amazon, and Sony Group Corp for the broadcast rights to the Indian Premier League, or IPL, a prized possession. Annual cricket tournament. Almost equal to the Super Bowl. People familiar with the matter have said that the bids will exceed $5 billion.
Last year’s edition of the IPL drew 380 million viewers, and whichever broadcaster wins the rights will secure millions of new subscribers in a highly competitive market.
The investment by Bodhi Tree also marks the Murdoch family’s return to the entertainment market when The Walt Disney Company acquired 21st Century Fox’s assets, including Star India, in 2019. Disney now owns Hotstar, a popular streaming platform. With millions of cricket fans across the world.
Bodhi Tree is a newly formed platform between Murdoch and Uday Shankar, the former head of Star India and later Disney Asia. Qatar Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar, is an investor.
Separately, Adani Group said on Wednesday that it had incorporated AMG Media Networks, adding that it will focus on publishing, advertising, broadcasting, and distributing content across various media networks. It was not elaborate.
Late last year, Sony and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, run by a local media mogul, agreed to a merger that would create a media giant worth around $10 billion.