The Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd (RBNL) and CBS Studios International joint venture, christened BIG CBS Networks Pvt Ltd, will be launching three new English entertainment channels customised for the Indian market. The channels will premier in the fourth quarter of 2010 and mark RBNL’s foray into the TV business in India, and also marks the entry of CBS into the Indian market.
The themed channels will be targeted at India’s fast-growing, upwardly mobile population and will be branded BIG CBS Prime, a premium English general entertainment channel, BIG CBS Spark, India’s first ever English youth channel, and BIG CBS Love, India’s first ever women’s English entertainment channel.
RBNL, part of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, and CBS Studios International, a division of CBS Corporation, announced their equally owned joint venture on August 18, 2010. Marking the announcement of the joint venture in Mumbai were Tarun Katial, CEO, Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd, and Armando Nuñez, President, CBS Studios International.
BIG CBS Networks will be a limited liability company incorporated in India. CBS and RBNL (through its subsidiary) will act as shareholders and each have a 50 per cent equity interest in the JV company.
The three new English channels will be made available across a network of digital and analog distribution platforms, offering audiences immediate access to new and current CBS programmes, including some of the most popular television programs in the world. They will also be offered to audiences across the Indian Sub-continent covering India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Maldives and Pakistan.
The wide range of popular CBS content to be offered by the channels will include brand-new series such as ‘Hawaii Five-0’, ‘The Defenders’ and ‘Blue Bloods’, and current hits such as ‘NCIS’, ‘Survivor’, ‘CSI’, ‘90210’, ‘America’s Next Top Model’ and ‘Entertainment Tonight’. The channels will also draw from 70,000 hours of content from CBS’ vast programme library. In addition, the venture will also acquire content from third party suppliers and will consider producing original English language programming for the channels, in the future.
Commenting about the new joint venture, Tarun Katial said, “We are proud to announce our joint venture with CBS, America’s leading television broadcaster. This is truly a landmark moment not just for us, but the entire Reliance ADA Group, with our first step into the television broadcasting space. We see great opportunity in the Indian television industry, which projects high growth rate, and we are confident that our deep understanding of the Indian consumer’s entertainment requirement and advertiser needs, coupled with CBS’ reputation for creating superior content, will offer unmatched and pioneering entertainment to audiences in India and across the Indian subcontinent.”
“Reliance is an international media and entertainment powerhouse and the perfect partner for CBS to expand further into India,” said Armando Nuñez. “The vast programming, production and media resources of our two companies position us extremely well to serve audience, advertisers and all constituents of these new channels. This is an exciting alliance with potential for amazing synergies and new opportunities for our companies in one of the world’s most dynamic business and media markets,” he added.
While BIG CBS will initially focus on the English language general entertainment channels, the joint venture may also explore the option of launching Hindi language and regional language general entertainment channels, along with other possible projects in the future.
The Rs 265.5 billion burgeoning Indian television market is estimated to have 134 million homes with televisions, of which 103 million have access to cable or satellite television, including DTH. India is poised to become the world’s largest direct-to-home satellite pay TV market by 2012, overtaking the US with a projected 35 million subscribers.