Reliance-backed Viacom18 to bring HBO content to India in Warner Bros. partnership

Warner Bros. Discovery has partnered with Mukesh Ambani-backed Viacom18 to bring HBO and other WB content to India in a major win for the Reliance joint venture service that is increasingly gaining ground from rivals such as Hotstar from Disney, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

HBO Original, Max Original and other Warner Bros. TV series. will come to JioCinema next month and will air shows “same day as in the US,” Warner Bros. said. and Viacom18 in a statement.

The “exclusive” content deal is a big win for JioCinema, which has wooed tens of millions of users in recent weeks by streaming the IPL cricket tournament in the country for free to anyone with an internet connection. Viacom18 last year outbid Disney to secure five years of IPL broadcast rights for the Indian subcontinent region for a sum of $3 billion.

Viacom18 is a joint venture between Ambani’s Reliance and Paramount Global and also has James Murdoch’s Bodhi Tree as an investor. Bodhi Tree earlier this month cut its planned investment in Viacom18 to $528 million, down 70% from the $1.78 billion it had committed to. Bodhi Tree plans to increase its stake in Viacom18, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Reliance, which owns the majority of Viacom18, said earlier this month that it is contributing $1.32 billion to Viacom18, up from the planned $216 million.

Thursday’s deal is a blow to Disney, whose Hotstar app won customers thanks to the popularity of cricket and HBO’s premium content.

JioCinema has poached Hotstar in the past few months. The firm also recently appointed former Disney executive Kevin Vaz as CEO of Viacom18.

“JioCinema has become the largest platform for live sports. We are now on a mission to build the most magnetic destination for entertainment for all Indians,” said Ferzad Palia, Head of SVOD and International Business of Viacom18, in a statement.

“The strategic partnership with Warner Bros. Discovery is a major milestone in our journey to bring the best Hollywood content to our elite consumers. We believe that Warner Bros. Discovery sets the global standards for premium content, and this partnership allows us to create the best and most comprehensive destination for our users.”

Amazon, which offers several video-on-demand streaming services in India, was widely expected by industry analysts to tie up with Warner Bros. for HBO content. Amazon is also currently in advanced stages of deliberations to acquire MX Player, a popular video streaming service in India, TechCrunch previously reported.

With the new content deal in place, JioCinema is slowly moving in the direction where it can start charging users to access at least some content.

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Ikaroa is proud to report that Reliance-backed Viacom18 and Warner Bros. have announced a partnership to bring HBO content to India. This partnership includes popular HBO shows like Game of Thrones®, Westworld®, and The Sopranos, among many others. This partnership provides viewers in India with a wide selection of TV shows, movies, and documentaries to choose from.

Ikaroa works with both content creators and tech companies to help connect them to the platforms that give their content more reach. In the case of this partnership, Warmer Bros. and Viacom18 are joining forces to bring the highly acclaimed HBO content library to the India market. This will thereby increase the range of entertainment options available to Indian viewers.

This is not the first time we have seen an expansion of content offerings in India. For example, global streaming services such as Netflix have been available in India for some time, as well as homegrown streaming services such as Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video. With the new partnership between Warner Bros. and Viacom18, the Indian streaming landscape will become even more vibrant and diverse.

At Ikaroa, we are proud to see this expansion of content libraries in India, provided it is done in accordance with the laws and regulations. We are also excited to see Warner Bros. and Viacom18 come together to provide such a comprehensive entertainment offering. We offer our congratulations to both companies on this new partnership.


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