MUMBAI: First CBS exited from its three channel joint venture with the Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd (RBNL) late last year. Now the RTL Group and RBNL have decided not to continue with the joint venture that the two had set up to run the male-skewed action channel Big RTL Thrill. RBNL has stepped in and bought out RTL’s holding as a consequence.
RTL – owned by German media behemoth Bertelsmann - had got into bed with RBNL in May 2011, with the Big RTL Thrill channel launching in November 2012. The content for the same had been acquired from international production majors such as FremantleMedia, Endemol, Red Bull, along with a library of international action films. Amongst the key shows which ran on the channel figured: Fear Factor, Cobra 11, Criss Angel, Wipe Out and Baywatch.
Just three years later, the two broke up with RBNL buying out the Luxembourg-based entertainment network’s holding. The transaction was completed in May.
With the parting of ways, RBNL has dropped RTL from the channel’s name calling it simply Big Thrill. All the international content on Big Thrill will be dropped and replaced by locally produced programming as the licensing deals come to an end. Big Thrill will give company to the other RBNL regional Big Magic channels which are targeted at Bihar, Jaharkand and Punjab.
RTL sources acknowledged – in international media - the contribution of RBNL in understanding the Asian market. And they said that they would now be focusing on their Singapore-based partnership with CBS Studios International – RTL CBS Entertainment Network. The two got together in August 2013 to launch two thematic channels in English and local languages and distributed in up to 29 Asian markets including Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
The first channel named RTL CBS Entertainment rolled out last year with general entertainment hits such as RTL Group’s The X Factor, America’s Got Talent and Celebrity Apprentice as well as CBS’s Elementary, Under the Dome, Late Show with David Letterman and Entertainment Tonight.
The second branded RTL CBS Extreme launched in March 2014 with a menu consisting of action adventure, reality series and extreme sports. Programming included Fear Factor, Red Bull, NCIS: Los Angeles and Hawaii Five-0. The venture has access to first-run shows and library titles from RTL Group’s content arm, FremantleMedia, and from CBS, which owns America’s number one network, and a vast catalogue of more than 70,000 hours of programming.