Turner, ZEEL end distribution pact; IndiaCast tipped to distribute Turner channels

MUMBAI: As Turner International India and ZEEL have ended their almost 16-year distribution alliance, the former is tipped to join hands with IndiaCast Media Distribution for taking care of its distribution.

As per the partnership, IndiaCast will distribute Turner channels from 1 April. ZEEL has been distributing Turner channels as its official distribution agent.

It is pertinent to note that IndiaCast was earlier distributing Disney India channels. However, the distribution partnership was called off in 2015 with Disney taking distribution business in-house.

The partnership with Turner will strengthen IndiaCast’s kids and English entertainment offering.

Turner India’s portfolio includes CNN International, Cartoon Network, POGO, Toonami, HBO, and WB. It is also planning to launch Cartoon Network HD+. This will be the second HD channel after HBO HD.

Apart from TV18 and Viacom18 channels, IndiaCast also distributes Eenadu Television channels.

Turner International India MD Siddharth Jain and IndiaCast Media CEO Anuj Gandhi refused to comment on the development.

“Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. (ZEE) and Turner International (Turner), after nearly two decades of successful strategic collaboration, have mutually decided to work independently for driving Subscription Revenues,” the two parties said in a joint statement.

“ZEE and Turner joined hands back in 2002 to manage distribution and trade marketing for a bouquet of channels in India. As both parties continue to explore avenues for growth, we jointly take this opportunity to thank our value chain partners to have supported us through our journey,” it added.

As a precursor to the separation, ZEEL had acquired Turner’s 26% stake in distribution JV Zee Turner in October 2017. Zee Turner was incorporated on 20 December 2001 as a JV entity by Zee and Turner International India for engaging in the business of distribution of Zee and Turner channels.

In 2010, Zee Turner had joined hands with Star DEN, a 50:50 distribution JV between Star India and DEN Networks, to form distribution behemoth MediaPro.

The equal JV was called off in 2014 following the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) regulation barring bundling of channels between different broadcasters.

Broadcasters like Discovery Communications and Disney India, who had distribution alliances with big broadcasters, are distributing channels on their own.

The digitisation of cable TV networks and concentration of market share with top multi system operators (MSOs) has also played a role in dismantling of distribution partnerships.

Apart from IndiaCast, Sony Pictures Networks Distribution India (SPNDI) also distributes third party channels. It distributes TV Today Network channels apart from its own network channels.

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