21st Century Fox owned Star India Pvt Ltd has finally completed the integration of the broadcast business of Maa Television Network.
Star India has retained the Maa TV brand. Maa TV runs four channels — a general entertainment channel Maa, music channel Maa Music and two movie channels Maa Movies and Maa Gold.However, the holding company Maa Television Network Ltd will continue to stay with its original promoters.
“The acquisition fills a critical gap in our portfolio and will allow our advertisers targeted access to the large Telugu speaking population. We plan to invest further in this important market to fundamentally change the content quality paradigm,” said Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India.
K Madhavan, MD, Asianet Communications will head the Maa channels along with Star’s other regional channels in the south. Asianet Communications was acquired by Star India in 2013.
Early this year Star India in its effort to spice up its content offering in the Telugu broadcast market had acquired Maa Television Network Ltd’s broadcast business for Rs 2500 crore, after receiving a nod from the Foregin Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time a bid was made to acquire Maa TV. In 2012, Sony Pictures Ltd had annouced its decision to pick up 30 per cent stake in the regional broadcaster, subject to government approvals. However, the deal fell through and in February this year, Star India finally bought the regional broadcast business.
According to industry estimates, the Telugu broadcast market is estimated at Rs 1,800-2,000 crore. Analysts call Star India’s move a smart one, given the rise in consumption of regional content on television and the completion of phase 3 and 4 of cable TV digitisation.
“The integration of Maa TV allows Star India to complete its offering in the southern region and take on the competition, where it was missing a serious play so far,” said Ashish Pherwani, partner, advisory services, Media and Entertainment, Ernst &Young (EY).
The acquisition of Maa TV now allows Star India to compete against its rivals such as Viacom18 Media Pvt Ltd, a joint venture between Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries owned Network18 Media & Investments Ltd and Viacom Inc, apart from Kalanidhi Maran owned Sun TV Network Ltd.
Sun Network Pvt Ltd was one of the first ones to enter the Telugu genereal entertainement channels space by acquiring a significant stake in a bouquet of channels owned by Gemini network about a decade back.
In 2013, Reliance Industries Ltd bought ETV Network of channels from Hyderabad based Ushodaya Enterprises. The channels were recently rebranded under Viacom18’s GEC brand Colors.
Star India is part of 21st Century Fox, the media house controlled by Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch also controls News Corp, the parent of this news website.