Viacom18 reportedly hiring Disney Star exec Vaz in senior role

Reliance Industries-backed Indian media outfit Viacom18 has reportedly recruited Disney Star’s head of network entertainment channels, Kevin Vaz, in a senior role.

Kevin Vaz

According to the Economic Times, citing industry sources, Vaz has resigned and will join Viacom18 shortly.

Vaz was promoted to president and head of network entertainment channels at Disney Star in September 2021, having previously served as head of infotainment, kids and regional entertainment channels Star and Disney India.

The move comes after completion of a merger involving Reliance Industries, Bodhi Tree Systems – an investment JV of James Murdoch and former Disney Star chairman Uday Shankar – and Paramount Global.

The merger will see streaming service JioCinema integrated into Viacom18.

Following that merger, TV18, Viacom18’s nominal parent, backed by Reliance Industries, will have a 51% stake in the company with the balance held by Paramount Global and Bodhi Tree Investments. Shankar has been appointed to the board of Viacom18 following the merger.

Viacom18 had previously announced a partnership with Murdoch and Shankar’s Bodhi Tree Systems to set up a joint streaming giant with the latter making a major investment in Viacom18. However, Bodhi Tree has since cut its planned investment in the streamer from US$1.78 billion to US$528 million due to uncertainty about the economic outlook.

Viacom18 owns streaming rights to the Indian Premier League cricket, the biggest sporting tournament in the sub-continent, for which it paid INR28,758 crore. The company ultimately plans to merge Voot into JioCinema to create a single streaming platform for India, with the IPL being distributed via the JioCinema app.

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