Media Comglomerate UTV certainly believes in the maxim “When it rains it pours”
The media major has just announced its foray into gaming with an announcement of mega deals including proposed acquisitions of the controlling stake in Ignition Entertainment Ltd. (Ignition) – a console gaming company based in UK and Indiagames Ltd (IG) – a mobile and broadband gaming company in India.
The company has also announced the production of three original animated features which it will produce at an investment of Rs 135 crores. These include projects being developed by Simi Nallaseth, Arnab De while the third feature will be produced in collaboration with Will Smithâ€?s Overbrook Entertainment and is currently in the scripting.
This will make UTV the largest Gaming and Animation entity in India with competencies in Game development, publishing and distribution across mobile, online and console platforms worldwide and the capability to create IPâ€?s in all forms of content, including Live Action and Animation.
According to the company,”The outlay for investment towards Animation properties and gaming acquisitions will be around Rs. 260 crores”
UTV presently creates, develops and aggregates content for TV, Movies and Animation. With an objective to create content across ALL entertainment platforms, the Company has ventured into Gaming. This gives the Company exposure to the rapidly growing mobile, PC and console gaming industry, which is pegged at around USD 30 billion.
In the Gaming space, UTV is making huge strides with the proposed acquisition of a controlling stake in Indiagames Ltd., the largest gaming company in India for Rs. 68 crores. IG reported annual revenues of around USD 5 million for the last fiscal and has employee strength of around 270 employees. Post transaction the shareholders of the Company will include Cisco Systems, Adobe Inc. and Management. IG pioneered mobile and online gaming in India and is presently involved with mobile game development, publishing and distribution across 67 countries through 80 telecom partners like Vodafone, Verizon, Hutch and Airtel. Its latest venture into PC games distributed online through broadband ISPs like BSNL, MTNL, Airtel and Tata VSNL amongst others is expected to be a major value driver for the Company.
Vishal Gondal, CEO and Founder of IG, will continue to head the Company and evolve synergies with other UTV businesses in the creation of cutting-edge games.
UTV has also announced the acquisition of a 70% stake in Ignition Entertainment Ltd, a UK based Company with over 100 employees for around Rs. 60 crores. Annual revenues of the Company as on December 31, 2006, are expected to be around US$ 15 million. With this development, UTV acquires interests in console game development, publishing and distribution across the globe. This acquisition brings to the table phenomenal relationships with hardware manufacturers, game developers and distributors such as Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, SNK, Konami, Atari, Virgin, Wal Mart, etc. Ignition is presently developing a path-breaking top end game â€?WarDevilâ€? budgeted at around GBP 10 million and is expected to release it in the year 2008 exclusively on the Sony Playstation3(tm) (PS3) platform. PS3 was launched in November 2006 in Japan and the US and it is expected to sell more than 30 million units by the end of 2008.
Says Andy Whitehurst, the Creative Director spearheading â€?War Devilâ€?, “The project is being developed exclusively for the Sony Playstation3(tm) and weâ€?re excited to be associated with Sonyâ€?s next generation system. WarDevil is designed to leverage not only the videogames properties of the system, but also the Blu-Ray and media rich functions of the PS3 – presenting a unique combination of both Videogame & Motion Picture into a single, unique product, which gives cinematic High Definition content (1080P) in real-time on the PS3.”
With the acquisition of controlling interests in Indiagames in India and Ignition in the UK, UTV plans to capture world markets and intends to build efficiencies through cross synergies in game acquisition for the world markets and derive cost efficiencies using India as a base for game development processes, using distribution strengths and relationships to market products better worldwide. Of the Rs. 128 crores outlay in acquiring these companies about Rs. 60 crores will be for purchase from selling shareholders and balance funding into the acquired companies for future growth.
UTV to produce 3 animation features with total investment of Rs 135Crores
UTV will also invest Rs. 135 crores in the development of Animation movies over the next three years. The motion picture slate of the Company in 2009 will include at least three animation titles. The roster of creative talent the Company has assembled towards this effort is unmatched in the industry. Simi Nallaseth, one of the key animators of the international smash-hit animation movie Ice Age is developing one of the productions. Arnab Chaudhury, former Head of Channel [V] and Creative Director of Turner International (Asia), will be working on another project. UTV is now in the scripting stage of its CG animation production with Will Smithâ€?s Overbrook, which was announced earlier this year.
With these developments, UTV has created Indiaâ€?s largest Animation and Gaming Company. The combined present annual revenues from these entities forming part of the Animation and Gaming Segment of UTV are around Rs. 100 crores and are expected to grow significantly over the next three years. UTV has recently announced itâ€?s plans to achieve revenue target of Rs. 1,000 crores company by financial year ended 2009-10 through its four distinct verticals – Television, Movies, Animation & Gaming and Broadcasting.
UTV COO Ronald Dâ€?Mello commented on the latest foray into New Media, “We have always been a progressive Media & Entertainment Company with our ability to spot trends early and innovate for success. With the fragmentation of media and the emergence of interactivity as one of the key drivers of entertainment with the youth, we see New Media platforms as the key to future growth. We believe we are investing in the future with these new acquisitions and plan to derive tremendous value both because of the intrinsic worth of these entities as well as the synergies they will bring with our existing businesses in Motion Pictures, Television Content and Broadcasting”