Reliance-Viacom18-Sony deal finally off?

Reliance-Viacom18-Sony deal finally off?

Reports have surfaced that Reliance has called off the partnership with Sony in India.


MUMBAI:  For a long time, media has been reporting that a deal between the Reliance-owned Viacom18 and Sony Pictures Networks is just about to be struck. That it is definitely on. Then reports surfaced that it's off. Now, here's another one harping on the latter, saying the two are not getting into bed together.

On earlier occasions, the reasoning was that media and entertainment is too small a business for Reliance to want to continue with it; thus the assets it acquired from Raghav Bahl a few years ago would be jettisoned. Then, on others, when it appeared to have been forgotten, came the news reports that Sony wanted out as the valuation being demanded by Reliance was too high to be even considered by Sony.

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And even as we totally forgot that the two were even talking to each other, came reports that an arrangement would be struck by the end September-2020. And how synergies would shine when the two wedded each other. We, at looked on, with sardonic smiles on our faces, ignoring all the reams of paper that were wasted. The end of September has come and gone, and there's been no deal, nada.

Now comes the news, that Reliance has opted out because it has had a change of heart and wants management control of the digital operations of the two firms - Voot, Voot Select, and SonyLiv and has suddenly developed a love for its media and entertainment vertical. That is a no-no for Sony. 

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"Media and entertainment is an essential pillar of Jio's business strategy," says a source. "Reliance plans to invest aggressively to grow the digital media business. There is a lot of interest from content companies and production houses in partnering with Reliance and Jio and investors are keen to back such a partnership.”

Hopefully, it stays that way. And we hope it is the last time that the media will pay attention to this two-year-old "developing" story.