Sony is likely to own 74% after a merger with Viacom 18 setting the stage for a battle for the Indian TV audiences for general entertainment channels (GEC) market with Disney-Star.
Raj Nayak, former Chief Operating Officer, Viacom 18 tweeted: "Interesting: Sony to own 74 per cent after merger with Viacom 18; ready for duel with Disney Star."
As per reports, a merger of Sony Pictures Network and Viacom 18 is in the final stages and likely to be announced soon.
Viacom 18 is a 51:49 JV between Reliance owned Network 18 and Viacom. There has been a buzz about the deal for some months now.
Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani has just concluded a massive fund raising exercise in RIL and Jio Platforms.
Sony will hold 74 per cent stake in the merged entity while RIL and Viacom who are 51:49 JV partners in Viacom 18 will retain the remaining 26 %.
As per reports, the deal would only include Viacom's entertainment business, and Reliance would continue to own the news channels.
Experts says that the Sony-Viacom combine would be formidable competition for Disney-Star, especially in the Hindi general entertainment (GEC) genre, which is the bulk of the broadcast network's revenue.
Reports said that the viewership of Star Plus and Star Bharat have been on the decline over the last one year, while Viacom's Colors has been doing well in urban as well as in rural markets. SET (Sony Entertainment Television) has been consistently doing well in urban markets. The GRPs (gross rating point) of Sony and SAB put together is larger than Star Plus and Star Bharat and if Colors is added to the portfolio, the pie gets bigger.