The Walt Disney Company’s president of the Asia-Pacific operations-Uday Shankar, has stepped down from all positions in the company including Chairmanship at Star India and Disney India. He will work to find the right successor for his position until his resignation kicks in on 31st December 2020.
This is big for Disney and Star Network India because Uday Shankar has been one of the most instrumental people in driving its business in the APAC region. He started off as the CEO and editor at Star News before being promoted to the position of CEO at Star India in 2007. His exceptional work at Star India, helping the network become the largest in India, earned him the position of president at 21st Century Fox for Asia.
The acquisition of 21 Century Fox by Walt Disney in 2019 led to Uday Shankar heading The Walt Disney Company’s APAC operations while retaining his position as chairman at Star and Disney India.
During his 15 year tenure at the Star and Disney network, Uday has implemented some impressive moves, including the launch of one of the world’s most popular streaming services, Disney+Hotstar. Hotstar was officially launched in 2015 by Star India network and went on to become one of the largest streaming services in India, now competing directly with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. After Disney’s acquisition of Star’s parent company 21st Century Fox, Hotstar announced a merger with Disney+ in 2020, which further expanded its OTT offerings. Disney+Hotstar currently is served in India and Indonesia whereas in Canada, Singapore, United Kingdom and the United States it operates as only Hotstar.
Shankar also spearheaded the growth of Star Sports in India and played a key role in launching Pro Kabbadi League and the Indian Football league, ISL. Under his leadership, Star Sports also landed one of the biggest broadcasting deals with the Indian Premier League (IPL). Even the acquisition of Asianet, Maa TV and ESPN’s stake in ESPN Star Sports India was led by Mr. Shankar.
As of now, for the next three months, Shankar will be looking for the right person to succeed him. After that, according to the man himself, he wants to move to an entrepreneurial career where he’ll most probably join hands with his ex-employer and media mogul Rupert Murdoch. He said, “I think the best way to express my gratitude to all of them will be to support and mentor a new generation of entrepreneurs as they set out to create transformational solutions that will have a positive impact on countless lives. I intend to partner with global investors and pioneers to achieve this.”
Although, the successor to Uday Shankar is yet to be decided, there are some names who can be a fit for the job. K Madhavan, Managing Director at Star & Disney India is the biggest name next to Uday Shankar and a suitable replacement. Even Sanjay Jain, President & Chief Financial Officer, could stand a chance to take over the soon-to-be-vacant position.
Rebecca Campbell, chairman of Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer & International segment, announced the news of Uday Shankar stepping down. She said, “I want to thank Uday for his leadership and dedication to our APAC business. With the successful launch of Disney+ throughout the region, he has helped put The Walt Disney Company in a commanding position in this dynamic and incredibly strategic part of the world.”
“His vast experience and expertise have been invaluable in bringing together a strong, cohesive APAC leadership team to chart a path forward for our streaming businesses in the region and beyond,” she added.