Viacom planning new Indian channels

Robert Bakish, Viacom’s International Media Networks President/CEO, speaking at the Ficci Frames media event in Mumbai, India said that India’s adoption of digital TV, and an improved and trustworthy ratings system, could lead to Viacom launching new channels.

Viacom is a 50/50 joint-venture partner with TV-18 in Viacom 18, and the partnership is looking at launching more channels and developing more regional offerings, which are seeing “fast growth,” said Bakish.  TV18 already owns 5 ‘general entertainment channels’ and it has been reported locally that Viacom is conducting due diligence on the possibility of expanding its joint-venture into these channels.

“The success of a JV is all about having a cultural fit. Our venture has had challenges and we have been forced to evolve. We decided to get into film production. We launched more channels like Sonic. Then we created IndiaCast to take advantage of digitisation. We see an opportunity to export content from India. We created a channel in the UK, Rishtey, using content from Colors and MTV.”

The IndiaCast system has seen the JV’s ‘Colors’ channels exported to 70 countries in what Viacom described as “reverse migration”. “Indiacast has a global multiplatform mandate.” Bakish said. “Star and Zee surprised people by coming together. We responded by creating one entity and partnered with Disney UTV to unlock the value of digitisation. While Nickelodeon and Disney compete fiercely with each other globally, the fact is that you have to look at each country differently.”

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