Screwvala’s U Digital buys out Apalya

Ronnie Screwvala’s U Digital Content has acquired video delivery company Apalya Technologies as its gears up to launch its digital content service Arre next year.

U Digital paid between $3m-$3.8m (Rs200-250m) to acquire 100% of the Hyderabad-based company, buying out investors including IDG Ventures, Cisco, Kalaari Capital and the company’s founders, Vamshi Reddy and Shiva Bayyapunedi.

The all-cash deal gives Arre access to Apalya’s online streaming platforms, including myplex and Mobile TV, along with long-standing relationships with telcos in India and some overseas territories.

Screwvala, who sold his first venture UTV Software Communications to The Walt Disney Company in 2013, founded U Digital with B. Saikumar, former group CEO of broadcaster Network18, and Ajay Chacko, former COO of Network18.

Arre, expected to launch early 2016, will offer cutting-edge content across several formats – including video series, podcasts and documentaries – with a focus on creating digital-only content rather than acquisitions. The venture’s business model revolves around a combination of branded content and subscription.

Launched in 2005, Apalya’s over-the-top (OTT) platforms have a subscriber base of around 10 million through partnerships with more than 10 mobile operators in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. It plans to launch in the Middle East, Africa and other Southeast Asian territories next year.

Arre has many meanings in Hindi but is often used to mean ‘wow’. The venture is already developing content including a podcast based on Avirook Sen’s murder story Aarushi and a series of investigative documentaries with the Indian Express newsroom.