India’s Reliance JioCinema Signs Up Pokemon in Kids Entertainment Push-Sources

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
JioCinema and Pokemon logos are pictured in this illustration taken Wednesday.

NEW DELHI, Nov 16 (Reuters) – The entertainment unit of India’s Reliance has signed a deal with The Pokemon Company to show children’s shows and movies on its platform, two people with knowledge of the deal said, its latest bid to boost content amid a domestic rivalry with the Walt Disney Co and other streaming services.

The deal, signed this month, will make JioCinema’s streaming app the “exclusive” India platform partner for more than 1,000 episodes and around 20 movies of the Japanese anime series, one of the sources said, without disclosing any financial details.

The shows and movies will be dubbed into three Indian languages to broaden their appeal, the source added. Pokemon has spawned a global multi-billion dollar media franchise spanning trading cards, games, TV shows and movies.

Viacom18, Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s entertainment joint-venture that runs JioCinema, and The Pokemon Company, owned by video game company Nintendo and affiliates, did not respond to a request for comment.

Adding child-focused content is Ambani’s latest push to expand in the Indian streaming market which research firm Media Partners Asia estimates will be worth $7 billion by 2027.

Netflix NFLX.O and Amazon AMZN.O are among JioCinema’s competitors, but Ambani has most recently taken on Disney’s Hotstar app, with both offering free streaming of cricket matches.

In total, JioCinema will add around 3,000 hours of children’s content, including movies and shows from Entertainment One, Animaccord, Cartoon Network Studios and DreamWorks, the sources said.

Those additions will come through Viacom18’s existing content deals, or integration with its other streaming app, Voot Kids, which has shut, they added. Some Pokemon content was earlier on Voot, but the new JioCinema deal is a “much larger partnership,” one of the sources said.

NBCUniversal told Reuters that “kids and family programming,” including DreamWorks content, was part of a multi-year partnership with JioCinema announced in May. Entertainment One, Animaccord, Cartoon Network Studios did not respond to requests for comment.

In April, Viacom18 struck a deal with Warner Bros Discovery Inc. to include more Hollywood and international content on JioCinema, including hit series “Succession” and “Game of Thrones.”