Mumbai: Asia’s two richest men — Gautam Adani and Mukesh Ambani — are doubling down on India’s media sector, intensifying competition in an arena where Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. are also vying for more than a billion viewers.
Ambani’s joint venture with Paramount Global – Viacom18 Media Pvt., is set to receive $1.8 billion in a funding round led by James Murdoch-backed Bodhi Tree Systems. The investment by Bodhi Tree also marks the return of the Murdoch family to an entertainment market it ceded when Walt Disney Co. took over a swath of 21st Century Fox assets, including Star India, in 2019. Disney now owns Hotstar, a streaming platform popular with millions of cricket fans around the world.
Separately, the Adani group said Wednesday that it incorporated AMG Media Networks, adding it would focus on publishing, advertising, broadcasting, and distributing content over different types of media networks.
“India is the only full-scale, high-growth opportunity in Asia outside of China,” said Vivek Couto, executive director at Media Partners Asia.
While Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd. is widening its footprint in the Indian media sector through his Network18 Media, Adani is just starting out. Last month, Adani Media Ventures Ltd. agreed to buy a stake in Quintillion Business Media Pvt., according to a statement. Quintillion was an Indian partner of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News.
With the $1.8 billion from Bodhi Tree and an additional $216 million from a Reliance arm, Viacom18 is preparing for an epic faceoff with Disney, Amazon, and Sony Group Corp. for broadcast rights of Indian Premier League, or IPL, a prized annual cricket tournament that’s roughly equivalent to the Super Bowl. Bids are likely to exceed $5 billion, people familiar with the matter have said. Last year’s edition of the IPL brought in 380 million viewers, and whichever broadcaster wins the rights will likely secure millions of new subscribers in a highly competitive market.