Billionaire industrialist Mukesh Ambani has turned into a venture capitalist, and is backing Epic TV, a new television channel, which is due to go on air next month.
Epic TV is a niche high-definition channel, which will have content based on the nation’s history, folklore, and mythology in a contemporary format.
Set up last October, the Epic Television Network is being led by Mahesh Samat, former managing director of Walt Disney Company, who had left the US major last year after a four-year stint.
While refusing to offer details, a Reliance spokesperson confirmed the development and said the investment by Mr. Ambani is “in his personal capacity.”
According to reports, Mr. Ambani holds over 25 per cent stake along with the Mahindra group chairman Mr. Anand Mahindra. The investment is routed through Reliance Ports & Terminals, which is one of Mr. Ambani’s personal firms.
Mr. Samat had earlier said Epic TV was being funded by a group of angel investors, but declined to name the investors or the amount.
Epic TV will be Mr. Ambani’s second broadcasting venture, as he already owns a considerable stake in the Network18 Group.
In January 2012, a shell company floated by Mr. Ambani had agreed to invest close to Rs. 2,000 crore in Network 18 and TV18 Broadcast, which runs channels such as CNBC TV18, CNN—IBN, and Colors, among others.
The Network18 deal came after RIL decided to pull out a large part of its investment in ETV channels, which was to be acquired by TV18 Broadcast for Rs. 2,100 crore. In 2008, RIL had invested Rs. 2,600 crore in Ushodaya Enterprises, the holding company of the ETV channels, through JM Financials.
The new channel aims to tap into the now-digitised cable TV ecosystem and the DTH platform to take advantage of its growth potential.
It will have about 4-5 hrs of fresh programming every day, which will include 2-3 hrs of long programming, and 1-2 hrs of narrative non-fiction shows.