K Madhavan, a noted media veteran has been named as the country head of Star and Disney India, an executive from the company announced on 14th December 2019.
Serving as Star India South Business MD, Madhavan will join his new role from 1 January, taking over from Sanjay Gupta who joined Google India as its new country manager and vice-president of sales and operations.
Before this, Madhavan served as managing director of Asianet Communications and vice-president of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation. He will directly report to Walt Disney Company APAC, chairman and Star-Disney India president Uday Shankar.
The rejig will also see Shankar directly overlooking Hotstar, pitting him against former colleagues Gupta and Ajit Mohan, who joined Facebook. In an internal note to employees, Shankar said: “For the time being, I shall have direct oversight on Hotstar leadership will work directly with me.”
Both Gupta and Mohan have worked on the Hotstar business while at Star. Mohan was the chief executive officer of Hotstar till the end of 2018, reporting directly to Gupta, who was elevated to country manager of Star and Disney in April. He was managing director of Star India earlier.
Madhavan will now oversee all television operations for the broadcaster, including Hindi and regional languages, as part of his new role. “Star is seeking continuity with the elevation of Madhavan. He is a seasoned hand, who’s been in the system for long,” said a media industry executive, who knows Madhavan well.
Madhavan might have to face challenges, as handling national television operations will not be easy at a time when the broadcasting market in India is heading towards consolidation. Sony Pictures Network is talking to Mukesh Ambani’s Network18 Media & Investments for a possible stake buy. Some other options on the table include a merger of the entertainment businesses of Sony and Network18. The latter has a 51 per cent stake in Viacom18, the joint venture that runs the Colors entertainment channel.
The country is in anticipation of the arrival of Disney+ through Hotstar. The enriching library of Disney including new original content will be available in India through the Star owned streaming service. Hotstar has registered over 400 million downloads in 2019, with twice the number of installs as last year and 555 installs per minute according to India Watch Report 2019, a study of online video consumption behaviour and trends released by the service this Tuesday.
Video consumption has tripled since 2018, with the number of video viewers increasing 1.5 times and the time spent per viewer doubling. Hotstar, meanwhile, is the largest over-the-top (OTT) platform in India, with 200 million subscribers. Lately, Hotstar crossed 400 million downloads this year, with the number expected to grow as the OTT player increasing sports and entertainment content.