Sony Pictures Networks India and Viacom18 merger to be announced this month

Sony Pictures Networks (SPN) India and Viacom18 to merge soon and the two companies will begin working together only by the end of 2021
Sony Pictures Networks (SPN) India and Viacom18
A merger of Sony Pictures Networks and Viacom18 Media is likely to be formally announced by third week of this month, September.

Reports mentioned that the merged entity is expected to start operations only by the end of 2021. Viacom18 is a 51:49 joint venture between Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL)-owned Network18 and US-based Viacom Inc.

Viacom18 Media operates a host of entertainment channels such as Colors, MTV, Comedy Central, VH1 and Nickelodeon. The JV also deals with film production and content syndication. Sony Corp through its 100% local arm Sony Pictures Networks (SPN) runs a bouquet of entertainment channels including SET, Max and Pix.
The deal, as a result of which Sony Pictures Networks (SPN) will own a majority stake in Viacom, is aimed at providing Reliance with greater control over the Indian entertainment ecosystem and helping it keep the content pipeline going for its distribution networks of DEN and Hathway, both cable service providers and its broadband and Internet service JioFiber.
For SPN the proposed merger with Viacom18 will help Sony gain a much wider footprint in India’s entertainment space. Besides Hindi general entertainment channel, Viacom owns regional language and children’s channels where Sony isn’t strong. The Viacom roster includes channels such as Colors (Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Marathi, Gujarati etc), MTV, Nickelodeon, among others. “Sony’s overall TV performance is very seasonal. Its marquee TV shows, like Kaun Banega Crorepati, for instance, come once a year," a media analyst said on condition of anonymity.

“If Sony merges its India entertainment business with Network18’s entertainment businesses, the merged entity may have 18-20% market share in overall viewership and about 45% share in Hindi GEC space," said the executive from the consulting company.

Sony’s earlier attempts to venture into the regional TV space failed when it sought to acquire stakes in both Eenadu TV and MAA TV, a bouquet of Telugu channels in 2013.
The merger has been in the process for almost a year and a half and it will see Sony take a majority stake of 74 per cent in Viacom while the latter will own the remaining 26 per cent. Sources close to the development have reported to a media outlet that the three businesses comprising SPN, Viacom18 and Jio Studios will merge into a single entity.

They also revealed that the combined property will be worth close to Rs 10,000 crore in revenue and may have 2,700 employees.


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