CBS and Reliance Shutter Indian TV Venture

Big CBS-Prime to close

HONG KONG – CBS Studios International and Reliance Broadcast Networks Limited have ended their TV channel distribution joint venture in India.

The companies have offered no official explanation for the closure, but indicated that it was mutually agreed.

The JV channels appear to have suffered a lack of investment and failed to win a wide number of carriage deals across India’s mass of cable and satellite platforms. That in turn crimped advertising and subscription revenues.

CBS and RBNL founded their JV in Aug. 2010 and launched three English-language channels targeted at different demographic segments.

The first channel Big CBS Spark, aimed at male youth audiences, went off air in June last year. Big CBS Love, a pioneering net for female-skewing audiences, followed in November. Big CBS Prime, targeted the most competitive segment of the Indian market, general entertainment, and struggled. In February last year it tried adding a Hindi-language feed, but the channel also shut down in November.

CBS is expected to continue to license its shows throughout India and South East Asia and recently signed a multi-series deal with AXN India.

RBNL, which was delisted from the stock market last year, will continue to offer Reliance channels and those from RTL, signed up under another recent agreement. Big RTL Thrill, an action channel, is currently offered in English and Hindi versions.

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