India's New Delhi Television Ltd said on Tuesday it had entered a deal to sell 26 percent in a unit to NBC Universal Inc for $150 million, the latest in a series of consolidation moves in Indian broadcasting.
The overseas unit, NDTV Networks, is a holding company for the Indian firm's entertainment and lifestyle channels and digital media business, which are growing quickly on the back of higher advertising spends and greater penetration of cable TV.
This will be a significant investment in an important emerging market and further illustrates our commitment to expand internationally, particularly in high-growth areas, NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker said in a statement.
The preliminary agreement includes an option for NBC Universal to increase its stake to up to 50 percent at fair market value in two years' time, it said.
Zucker said last April he wanted to more than double the size of the international operations of NBC -- 80 percent owned by General Electric and 20 percent by Vivendi -- in three years' time.
The Indian TV market is growing at 16 percent annually, which provides huge opportunities now and into the future.
NDTV also operates news channels and NDTV Networks' units include NDTV Imagine, NDTV Labs and NDTV Lifestyle.
NDTV Imagine, launched on Monday, is a Hindi-language entertainment channel, competing in a segment dominated by News Corp's Star and Zee Entertainment Networks.
India, the world's third-biggest cable TV market, is forecast to become Asia's most lucrative pay TV market by 2015, and foreign broadcasters are keen for a bigger piece of the pie.
Turner International, a unit of Time Warner Inc, recently entered a joint venture with India's Alva Brothers to launch general entertainment channels in regional languages.
Viacom Inc has a joint venture with India's TV18 group for general entertainment, and Walt Disney Co has a minority stake in UTV Software Communications, which also has general entertainment channels. (Reporting by Rina Chandran, Narayanan Somasundaram and Jasudha Kirpalani; Editing by Ranjit Gangadharan)