Ronnie Screwvala enters digital biz; B Sai Kumar to head venture


MUMBAI: Media and broadcasting veteran Ronnie Screwvala has joined hands with B Saikumar to form a new age ­digital media company. Based out of Mumbai, in its first phase, the venture aims at launching a digital brand, which will offer multi-genre­, multi—lingual content across video, audio, text and other traditional and new age art forms. The investment envisaged is an outlay of up to Rs 150 crore across two phases. While the first phase would be largely domestic-f­ocused, the platform will evaluate new geographies and verticals in its second and subsequent phases. 

The venture, with Sai Kumar as managing director, has also roped in former Network18 COO Ajay Chacko as CEO and has begun a global search for talent in creative, product and technology functions across entertainment, current affairs and infotainment spaces.

Digital media across the world has been competing with the traditional broadcast television, radio and print in terms of choice of consumers and marketers. With over 300 million Internet users and around 200 million of these using mobile, India is slated to become the world’s third largest digital media market. This is expected to get a further boost with the government’s Digital India plan and the launch of pan-India ­broadband services by existing operators and well-cap­italized new players.

At a time when the world is witnessing a range of digital-first ­media brands and companies generating tremendous stickiness, impact and value across markets, Screwvala’s new venture aims at becoming a valuable Indian digital media company with  footprints across geographies and content spaces. 

Over the last two and a half decades, Screwvala has built some of the country’s valuable media businesses and has been an entrepreneur known for disruption and innovation across many verticals and genres; from cable to broadcast, from animation and gaming to motion pictures.

Sai Kumar has been instrumental in taking Network18 from a single channel company to a $1 billion plus enterprise, while Chacko played a pivotal role in the launch of many of Network18’s flagship brands across print, TV and digital.

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