Billionaire Mukesh Ambani bets on streaming children’s shows
Ambani’s JioCinema rivalry with Disney, Netflix heats up
JioCinema to watch 3,000 hours of kids content added source
App to add Pokemon, Cartoon Network, DreamWorks content sources
By Aditya Kalra
NEW DELHI, Nov 16 (Reuters) – The entertainment unit of India’s Reliance has signed a deal with The Pokemon Company to show children’s shows and movies on its platform, two people familiar with the deal said, its latest bid to boost content amid a domestic rivalry with Walt Disney Co and other streaming services.
The deal, signed this month, will make JioCinema’s streaming app the “exclusive” India platform partner for more than 1,000 episodes and around 20 films of the Japanese anime series, one of the sources said, without disclosing any financial details.
The shows and films will be dubbed into three Indian languages to widen their appeal, the source added. Pokemon has spawned a global multi-billion media franchise that spans trading cards, games, TV shows and movies.
Viacom18, Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s entertainment joint venture that runs JioCinema, and The Pokemon Company, owned by video game company Nintendo and affiliates, did not respond to a request for comment.
Adding children-focused content is Ambani’s latest push to expand into the Indian streaming market, which research firm Media Partners Asia estimates will be worth $7 billion by 2027.
Netflix and Amazon are among JioCinema’s competitors, but Ambani has most recently taken on Disney’s Hotstar app, both of which offer free streaming of cricket matches.
In total, JioCinema will add about 3,000 hours of children’s content, including movies and shows from Entertainment One, Animaccord, Cartoon Network Studios and DreamWorks, the sources said.
These additions will come through Viacom18’s existing content deals or integration with its other streaming app, Voot Kids, which is closed, they added. Some Pokemon content was previously on Voot, but the new JioCinema deal is a “much bigger partnership”, one of the sources said.
NBCUniversal told Reuters that “kids and family programming,” including DreamWorks content, was part of a multi-year partnership with JioCinema announced in May. Entertainment One, Animaccord, Cartoon Network Studios did not respond to requests for comment.
In April, Viacom18 entered into an agreement with Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. to include more Hollywood and international content on JioCinema, including hit series “Succession” and “Game of Thrones”. (Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; Additional reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Miral Fahmy)