This is How Network 18 Expands Its Media Empire Through Acquisition of ETV Channels

Dhaneshwar Prasad

Mumbai-based media conglomerate Network 18 has further expanded its media presence through the acquisition of a 24% stake in ETV Network. The deal, estimated to be worth over Rs 2,000 crore, gives Network 18 ownership of ETV’s channels across genres including news, entertainment, infotainment, kids, music and movies.

About Network 18

Founded in 1993 by Raghav Bahl, Network 18 has established itself as one of India’s leading full play media companies. The group has interests across television, print, web, mobile and filmed entertainment.

Some of Network 18’s major properties include:

  • CNBC TV18 – India’s leading business news channel
  • CNN-News18 – One of India’s top English news channels
  • Moneycontrol – Leading financial news portal
  • Firstpost – Popular online news site
  • Viacom18 – Joint venture with Viacom handling channels like Colors, MTV and Nickelodeon
  • Film production house Viacom18 Motion Pictures

With a wide array of media brands under its umbrella, Network 18 reaches out to millions of viewers and readers across India. The group has been expanding aggressively across platforms, with digital media being a focused area of growth.

ETV Acquisition Provides Access to Regional Markets

The acquisition of ETV channels significantly beefs up Network 18’s presence in regional media markets.

Launched in 1995 by Ramoji Rao, ETV Network was amongst the first private Indian television networks to make its presence felt nationally. It has a diverse bouquet of channels across Telugu, Kannada, Oriya, Bangla, Marathi and Gujarati languages. ETV’s regional channels enjoy strong brand equity and appeal in their respective local markets.

With this acquisition, Network 18 takes over ETV’s channels and rebrands them under its ‘Colors’ brand. This includes popular entertainment channels like ETV Telugu, ETV Kannada, ETV Bangla, ETV Marathi and ETV Gujarati. Along with the five regional general entertainment channels, Network 18 also acquires ETV’s channels in other genres:

  • 5 ETV news channels
  • 5 ETV movie channels
  • 3 ETV music channels
  • 2 ETV life channels
  • ETV Abhiruchi – a cookery and lifestyle channel
  • ETV Kids channels

This diverse collection of regional language channels provides a major boost to Network 18’s offerings and expands its viewer footprint significantly.

Strengthening Presence in Regional Markets – A Smart Strategy

Network 18’s move to acquire ETV’s regional channels is a smart strategy on multiple counts.

India is a highly heterogeneous market with substantial linguistic diversity. While Hindi entertainment channels have a wide reach nationally, regional markets tend to prefer content in their local languages.

ETV has a strong connect with audiences in the South and East India through its entertainment and infotainment content tailored to regional tastes.

The advertising market for regional channels has also grown rapidly over the years. By acquiring ETV’s portfolio, Network 18 can corner a substantial share of this high-growth market. Regional channels offer a cost-effective avenue for advertisers to reach local audiences as compared to national channels.

Moreover, acquisition provides Network 18 with ready access to ETV’s distribution network in regional markets. Instead of starting regional channels from scratch, it can leverage ETV’s strong brand presence and on-ground infrastructure.

Altogether, the acquisition is in line with Network 18’s strategy of expanding into high-potential regional entertainment markets. It cements the group’s position as one of India’s most diversified media conglomerates.

Deal Enables Wider Reach for Colors Franchise

An important aspect of Network 18’s ETV acquisition is the rebranding of channels under its popular ‘Colors’ franchise.

Launched in 2008, Colors has become one of India’s leading entertainment brands with popular shows like ‘Balika Vadhu’, ‘Na Aana Is Des Laado’ and ‘Uttaran’. Currently, Colors has channels in Hindi, Kannada, Bangla and Tamil languages.

By rebranding ETV’s 5 regional language entertainment channels under Colors, the brand’s appeal and market reach is expanded substantially. Colors can leverage its content creation expertise and production values to strengthen programming on the new regional channels.

The wider presence will be advantageous for Colors in negotiating deals with advertisers and distribution platforms. Colors can offer an unrivaled footprint across high-potential Hindi and regional markets.

Colors has also unveiled new regional movie channels and regional language feeds for its existing national channels. This comprehensive bouquet will enable Colors to cater to diverse entertainment tastes across markets.

Impact on Media Landscape

Network 18’s foray into regional markets comes at a time when other national broadcasters are also expanding their regional presence.

Star India has launched multiple regional channels over the past decade including in Kannada, Marathi and Bangla. Zee Entertainment Enterprises also continues to make investments in this space.

Sony Pictures Networks India has created a separate division ‘Sony Aath’ focused exclusively on regional entertainment. Viacom18 also runs Colors Bangla Cinema and Colors Gujarati Cinema channels.

Competition in regional media markets is likely to intensify as major broadcasters look beyond Hindi offerings. Network 18’s acquisition of ETV gives it an advantage by enabling it to leverage an established brand name and market position.

However, Network 18 will need to counterpricing pressures and rising content costs to extract optimal value from the ETV deal. Producing engaging entertainment content for diverse markets will be crucial.

The expansion in regional media is ultimately good news for India’s broadcasting sector. As channels proliferate, viewers stand to gain from enhanced choice. Healthy competition may also force broadcasters to be more innovative and cater to underserved segments.

With ETV’s channels under its fold, Network 18 has a stronger foundation to tap into India’s linguistic diversity. But harvesting the deal’s true value will depend on its content and distribution strategies for each regional market in the coming years.


N18 & TV18 to acquire ETV channels; RIL to fund deal. (2012, January 4). Indian Advertising Media & Marketing News – Exchange4media.

Network 18. (n.d.).

Dina, A. (2015, March 4). Viacom 18 extends Colors branding to regional ETV channels | Mint. Mint.

Bhadra, S. (2021, October 31). Disney-Star launching new regional channels including Pravah Picture and Star Kirano: Analysis. DreamDTH.

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Former Sony professional turned multi-business owner and stock investor, Dhaneshwar leverages his MBA to produce market, IPO and biz content and personal investments on
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