James Murdoch’s Bodhi Tree leading a $1.78 billion investment in Ambani-backed Viacom18

Indian conglomerate Reliance and Viacom18 have formed a strategic partnership with Bodhi Tree Systems, a platform of James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems and former Disney executive Uday Shankar, in a push to turn the Ambani-backed network, which runs several television channels and streaming services, into “one of the largest TV and digital streaming companies” in the world’s second largest internet market.

As part of the partnership, Bodhi Tree is leading a $1.78 billion funding in Viacom18, which also counts Paramount Global among its backers, the companies said Wednesday.

The partnership will also see JioCinema, an on-demand video streaming service owned by Reliance, transferred to Viacom18, the firms said. Paramount Global, formerly known as ViacomCBS, will continue to offer its large catalog of global content to Viacom18.

“James and Uday’s track record is unmatched,” said Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, in a statement.

“For over two decades, they have played an undeniable role in shaping the media ecosystem in India, Asia, and around the world. We are very excited to partner with Bodhi Tree and lead India’s transition to a streaming-first media market. We are committed to bringing the best media and entertainment services for Indian customers through this partnership.”

This is breaking news. More to follow…