LONDON – Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani has picked up a 25% stake in Epic Television Network, a start-up Hindi-language channel with Indian history, folklore and mythology based content.The move is the Ambani’s second foray into the media and entertainment sphere. Last year he invested some $330 million in Network 18 and TV18 Broadcast, the groups that that operate channels including CNBC TV18, CNN-IBN, and Colors.Mukesh Ambani is the brother of Anil Ambani, the telecoms and property mogul whose media interests...
Mukesh Ambani has been Chairman & Managing Director of the Reliance Industries conglomerate since 2002. The corporation’s $30 billion investment in Jio is a big deal there in digital entertainment, the fastest growing segment of the Indian media scene.
Jio is a data, mobile phones and wifi outfit. India is poorly connected, with only some 200 million internet users and more than 800 million mobile connections with slow and expensive data. Jio aims to tap into the vast number of people who consume media on their mobile devices by providing high-speed data at costs that are at a fraction of their local competitors. The service launched in September 2016 and netted 100 million subscribers. The next step is free handsets for the 500 million Indians who use cheap feature phones.
Jio’s media services allow users to access HD TV, music and news across devices from hundreds of channels, in various categories and languages. Reliance Industries aims to make Jio available to 90% of India’s 1.25 billion population. Only 61% of Indian households have a television set.
In 2014, Ambani also took a controlling stake in Viacom 18, meaning that he now controls the Indian local versions of MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central, news channel CNN-IBN in partnership with Turner International India, business news channels CNBC-TV18 and CNBC Awaaz in association with CNBC Asia, and the local version of the History channel in a joint venture with A&E Television Networks.
Ambani has been pushing deeper into media at the same time that his brother, Anil Ambani, has been slowly backing out of the sector with his rival outfit, Reliance Group. Mukesh’s company acquired a 24.9% stake in leading content provider Balaji Telefilms for $64.2 million in July 2017.
With other interests including petroleum, natural gas, petrochemicals, retail, textiles and global corporate security, the corporation had approximately $90 billion of assets and $44 billion of revenues in 2016.