- Sony Corp. is in talks to acquire a stake in the Network18 TV network controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani as the Japanese giant seeks to tap booming content demand in the South Asian nation, according to people familiar with the issue.
- Talks are at an early stage and may not lead to a deal, people said. Network18 shares rose to 19 percent on Thursday in Mumbai, while TV18 Broadcast soared to 9.7 percent on Thursday.
Sony Corp. is in talks to acquire a stake in the Indian TV network controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani as the Japanese giant seeks to tap booming content demand in the South Asian nation, according to people familiar with the issue.
Currently, the Tokyo-based company is conducting due diligence on Ambani’s Network18 Media & Investments before any offer, people said, asking not to be named as the information is not public. Sony is considering a number of potential deal structures, including a company bid or a merger of its own Indian business with the entertainment channels of Network18, said one of the people.
Talks are at an early stage and may not lead to a deal, people said. Network18 shares rose to 19 percent on Thursday in Mumbai, while TV18 Broadcast soared to 9.7 percent on Thursday.
While a good deal will help Sony boost its local offerings and take on competitors like Netflix Inc., it will give Ambani access to international content. Reliance Jio Infocomm, the Indian tycoon’s wireless carrier, has spent nearly $50 billion on its network over the past couple of years to disrupt India’s telecommunications industry and has lured users by offering local and overseas programming.
“Our company is constantly reviewing various opportunities,” said a spokesperson for Ambani’s Reliance Industries, declining to comment further in an email.
Representatives for Sony in India and Japan have not responded immediately to requests for comments The talks come at a time when the rivalry is heating up to pay view.ers in a potentially lucrative market with over half a billion users of smartphones. Streaming to Amazon.com Inc. companies like Netflix.
Prime offers programs created locally to attract subscribers more and more. While having the technology platform, Ambani’s Jio is limited by the insufficiency of content it can stream, making such a deal crucial to Sony.
“India is a huge OTT market and any global OTT play will need to improve its local strategy,” said Utkarsh Sinha, managing director of Bexley Advisors, a Mumbai boutique firm, referring to over-the-top media services or streaming them. “In the next year or so, there are likely to be more partnerships or strategic alliances like this.”
Reliance Industries, the oil-to-petrochemicals conglomerate, unveiled last month’s plans to set up a digital services holding company to fulfill the mogul’s ambitions for an e-commerce platform to take on the likes of Flipkart Online Services Pvt from Amazon.com and Walmart Inc.
Sony operates through Sony Pictures Networks India in the South Asian country, which has a bouquet of channels including Sony Entertainment Television, reaching over 700 million viewers in India.
In India, TV18 Broadcast owns and operates 56 news and entertainment channels. It also provides services across 16 foreign networks to the global Indian diaspora.