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IndiaCast and Disney to end their distribution deal

MUMBAI: IndiaCast Media Distribution
and Disney India are ending their
distribution arrangement, signalling
that the television distribution
business is in for further overhauls.
Disney, which had appointed IndiaCast
as the agent for distributing its
channels in India, will handle it
“IndiaCast and Disney India are
dissolving their distribution
arrangement. Disney will distribute
its channels internally. An
independent affiliate sales team is
being put in place,” a source familiar
with the development said.
Disney has already started sending
feelers to the cable TV operators.
“Disney India officials informed us
that they would be taking care of
distribution directly,” several cable
operators told TelevisionPost.com.
Though IndiaCast and Disney have a
distribution deal running through
March 2016, a source said that it
would end prematurely. The source,
however, could not pin a definite date
when the two companies would
separate. “It could be soon,” he said.
IndiaCast and Disney executives were
not available for comment.
Disney India runs a clutch of kids,
youth and movie channels. The
bouquet includes Disney Channel,
Disney Junior, Disney XD, Hungama
TV, Bindass, Bindass Play, UTV Movies
and UTV Action.
After Disney’s exit, IndiaCast Media,
a JV between TV18 and Viacom18, will
have a wide spectrum of channels from
its parent companies to distribute.
While TV18 Broadcast owns and
operates 17 news channels such as
and IBN7, the Viacom18 channels
include Colors, MTV, Comedy Central,
Sonic, Nick and Vh1 among others.
IndiaCast and Disney UTV first started
with a 74:26 JV, with IndiaCast as
the majority partner. But with the
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
(TRAI) not allowing content
aggregators to bundle channels from
more than one broadcaster, the
IndiaCast-Disney JV got dismantled
last year. However, IndiaCast
continued to distribute Disney’s
channels in India as an agent.
After a series of burning of JV
relationships in the television
distribution space, the IndiaCast and
Disney separation signifies that the
churn has not halted. The next layer,
formed after the JV collapses, is also
beginning to crumble.
Since TRAI came out with content
aggregator regulation that outlawed
the bundling of TV channels across
broadcast companies, no distribution
JVs have survived. The first to tumble
was MediaPro, a 50:50 JV between
Zee Turner and Star DEN. Zee and
Turner called off their 74:26 JV and
so did Multi Screen Media (MSM) and
Discovery Communications.
News broadcasters such as NDTV,
Times Network and Media Content
&Communication Services (now ABP
News Network) split from their
content aggregators and set up their
own distribution wings. Neo Sports
Broadcast also broke away from MSM
However, a few survivors are still
following the distributor-agent
model. Turner is the biggest broadcast
network that has got Taj Television,
a wholly owned subsidiary of Zee
Entertainment Enterprises Ltd
(ZEEL), to distribute its channels.
“Disney and Turner continued to be
attached to their partners for
distribution, even after their JVs
evaporated. But even this structure is
coming under threat, as is being
demonstrated in the case of
IndiaCast-Disney,” a senior
distribution executive of a
broadcasting company said.
Being a smaller network, Disney India
had entered into a distribution deal
with IndiaCast. Going on its own will
be challenging, but the ecosystem is
changing fast and leaving open very
few choices.
The television distribution landscape
is set for further changes with big
broadcast networks planning to offer
their channels to multi-system
operators (MSOs) only on a la carte
(popularly known as RIO) basis. Star
India has already taken the RIO
(reference interconnect offer) route
and ZEEL has indicated that it is
exploring such options. If ZEEL takes
this ‘bold’ step, IndiaCast is expected
to follow suit.
In case bigger broadcasters move to
the RIO model for distribution of their
channels on cable TV networks, the
industry will go through a tumultuous
period of chaos, change and turmoil.
Perhaps, broadcasters feel that it is
the only way the cable TV sector can
move to consumer packaging and a
healthy pay TV economy take shape.

IndiaCast and Disney to end their distribution deal

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