India’s Viacom18 strikes WBD content deal to stock JioCinema


Reliance-owned Indian broadcaster Viacom18 has struck a deal with Warner Bros. Discovery to bring HBO and Warner Bros content to the JioCinema app.

Content to be added to the platform includes shows Succession, Game Of Thrones and the Harry Potter series, with HBO Original, Max Original and Warner Bros. Television series set to debut on the same day as in the US. Future and existing Warner Bros. movies including Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings will be available.

Clement Schwebig, president, India, Southeast Asia, and Korea, Warner Bros. Discovery, said: “Warner Bros. Discovery’s brands are incredibly popular across India, and we are pleased to partner with Viacom18 to bring our premium HBO, Max Original and Warner Bros. content to local fans. This new agreement demonstrates our commitment to South Asia as we seek to entertain audiences across more platforms, and further strengthens the scale of our regional business as a whole.”

The deal follows hard on the heels of a merger involving Reliance Industries, Bodhi Tree Systems – an investment JV of James Murdoch and former Disney Star chairman Uday Shankar – and Paramount Global. The merger will see JioCinema integrated fully into Viacom18.

Following the merger, TV18, Viacom18’s nominal parent, backed by Reliance Industries, will have a 51% stake in the company with the balance held by Paramount Global and Bodhi Tree Investments. Shankar has been appointed to the board of Viacom18 following the merger.

Viacom18 had previously announced a partnership with Murdoch and Shankar’s Bodhi Tree Systems to set up a joint streaming giant with the latter making a major investment in Viacom18. However, Bodhi Tree has since cut its planned investment in the streamer from $1.78bn to $528m due to uncertainty about the economic outlook.

Viacom18 owns streaming rights to the Indian Premier League cricket, the biggest sporting tournament in the sub-continent, for which it paid INR28,758 crore. The company ultimately plans to merge Voot into JioCinema to create a single streaming platform for India, with the IPL being distributed via the JioCinema app.

Ferzad Palia, head of SVOD & international business at Viacom18, added: “JioCinema has become the biggest platform for live sports. We are now on a mission to build the most magnetic destination for entertainment for all Indians. The strategic partnership with Warner Bros. Discovery is a big milestone in our journey to offer the best of Hollywood content to our elite consumers.”

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