CBS, Reliance Broadcast End India Joint Venture
UPDATED: Big CBS Networks launched in 2010 and operated three entertainment channels, featuring such hit series as "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "CSI."
CBS Corp.'s CBS Studios International and Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd. have ended their three-year joint venture, Big CBS Networks.
The companies didn't detail why they had decided not to continue the venture.
The venture was CBS Corp.'s first major foray into India. Its partner, Reliance Broadcast, is owned by DreamWorks' partner in India, the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group.
Sources said that the channels venture was a low-risk way for CBS to explore operating networks in India. But the company ended up feeling it would be better to focus on its traditional TV show licensing business in the region amid current market conditions.
"We’re proud of the channels that Big CBS presented to viewers in India, and we leave the venture with great respect for our terrific partners at Reliance," CBS Studios International said in a statement. "We will continue to license CBS programming throughout the region. International demand for CBS content remains strong, as evidenced by the multi-series licensing deal we just announced with AXN India."
Established in 2010, the joint venture rolled out three channels: general entertainment network Big CBS Prime, Big CBS Love, touted as India's “first-ever women's English entertainment channel,” and youth channel Big CBS Spark.
The channels, which are now off the air, featured hit shows from CBS and others, such as Hawaii Five-0, The Defenders, Blue Bloods, NCIS, Survivor, CSI, 90210, America’s Next Top Model, Entertainment Tonight, The Oprah Winfrey Show and Sex and the City.
The channels also drew content from CBS' 70,000-hour program library, including the original Melrose Place, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Frasier, Everybody Loves Raymond and Charmed, among others.
Big CBS Prime also launched a Hindi feed, which was expected to boost the network's reach from 1.9 million people to over 10 million.
The end of the venture comes at a time when Reliance has been concentrating more on growing its regional channels business.
The firm's focus is on regional channels via its flagship Hindi entertainment network Big Magic, which has also expanded into other languages. Big Magic has also been launched for diaspora audiences in the U.S. and Canada.
Reliance also owns television content production entity Big Productions and distributes Bloomberg TV India, the international business news network's local version. And its radio venture, Big FM, runs 45 stations nationwide.
In addition, Reliance has a joint venture with Europe’s RTL Group, which operates action-oriented channel Big RTL Thrill, available in dual English and Hindi language feeds.
CBS Corp. last year also struck a venture agreement with RTL that has launched channels in Southeast Asia.
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