Network18 Group & Sun Network ink distribution alliance

MUMBAI: Network18 Group and Sun Network have formed a strategic alliance to launch one of India’s biggest distribution entities.

The new entity, to be called Sun18, will be the first truly pan-India distribution company and aims to become one of the dominant players in the Rs 16,000 crore distribution space, over the next two years. This alliance also marks the entry of Network18 Group into the Indian television distribution space.

As part of the agreement, to begin with, Sun18 will distribute a total of 33 channels across all platforms in India via all networks including cable, DTH, IPTV, HITS and MMDS from Network18 (CNN-IBN, CNBC-TV18, CNBC-Awaaz, IBN-7 and IBN-Lokmat), Viacom18 (Colors, MTV, Nick and Vh1), Sun Network (SUN TV, KTV, Sun News, Sun Music, Chutti TV, Adithya, Gemini TV, Teja TV, Gemini News, Gemini Music, Navvulu TV, Kushi TV, Surya TV, Kiran TV, Udaya TV, Udaya Movies, Udaya 2, Udaya Varthegalu, Ushe TV and Chintu TV) and Disney India Network (Disney, Disney XD and Hungama).

The option to aggregate third party channels is also one of the opportunities this venture will seek to explore.

As part of the strategic alliance, the business has been structured uniquely, whereby two new companies have been formed – Sun18 Media Services North Co. and Sun18 Media Services South Co. While Sun18 South will manage the South India market (non Hindi-speaking-markets) and will be operated by the Sun Network, Sun18 North will manage the rest of India markets and will be operated by the Network18 Group. Sun18 North will be headed by Haresh Chawla (Group CEO – Network18 and Viacom18) as its CEO & Director. Rajesh Kamat (Group COO – Viacom18 & CEO – COLORS), will be the COO of Sun18 North. Sun18 South will be headed by Tony D’Silva as its CEO.

Network18 Group founder Raghav Bahl said, "This partnership extends Network18’s presence into yet another critical component of the Indian television & entertainment space. In Sun Group, we’ve found a partner that not only complements our own strengths, but is also as ambitious to change the landscape of the Indian broadcasting industry." He further added, “Distribution is one of the high-growth areas in this industry and we’re excited to now have a presence in this part of the business as well.”

SUN Network chariman and managing director Kalanithi Maran added, “SUN18 is a very important initiative for us in the distribution platform business and is being created with the vision of better leveraging our very successful television brands across the country. Network 18 is one of the best managed Media enterprises in India and in them we believe we have found an alliance partner to fuel our distribution plans for the rest of the country. The content assets and resources of SUN TV Network and Network 18, will enable us to continue to thrive in an ever-changing media landscape. Consumers of all of our products – on screens large and small – will have the benefit of enhanced content and experiences, delivered to them in new and better ways as a result of this initiative. It also signals our deep commitment to drive greater growth from subscription revenues.”