Power of two
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In the media and entertainment industry, a larger network translates into better bargaining power. As a result, consolidation has become the buzzword, especially in the distribution business of television channels in India. The latest announcement to this effect is the joint venture between IndiaCast (TV18 and 18's multi-platform, global distribution company) and UGBL (a Disney UTV group company which is a diversified, multi-brand entertainment company) for their aggregation and wholesale distribution business for TV channels.
While IndiaCast will hold 74 per cent stake in this joint venture, Disney UTV will hold the remaining 26 per cent and the yet-untitled entity will provide a bouquet of 35 channels from the TV18, Viacom18, Disney UTV, AETN18 network to Cable, Direct-To-Home (DTH) and Headend-in-the-sky (HITS) platforms in India.
Anuj Gandhi, the current Group CEO of IndiaCast, who will also head the new entity as the CEO says, "This partnership will build a strong distribution company that will offer a broader and more diversified range to platforms giving us a foothold across genres — including general entertainment, general and business news, movies, youth and kids genres. We have had a great first year for IndiaCast and this joint venture will give our domestic distribution business scale and wider reach."
The strength of IndiaCast-Disney UTV joint venture lies in the genre of youth-based and kids channels. While Disney will get an access to MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central, IndiaCast will get hold of popular kids channels like Disney, Hungama and Disney XD. Meanwhile, Viacom18's Colors will remain a driver of this package. Similarly, the regional-language channels will find a stronger presence through this joint venture since ETV bouquet of channels from the Eanadu group are being distributed by IndiaCast.
Today, the distribution marketplace comprises two other major players — MSM Discovery Pvt Ltd (popularly known as TheOne Alliance) and Media Pro Enterprise India Pvt Ltd. TheOne Alliance was formed in 2002 as a joint venture between Multi Screen Media Pvt Ltd (Sony Entertainment Network) and Discovery Communications and the company presently distributes 24 channels comprising various genres to over 90 million homes spread across 4000 cities in India.