“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.
Formerly with Asianet, Madhavan joined Star in 2008 after the latter acquired a 51 per cent stake in the channel, popular in the Kerala market then. Star eventually took full control and ownership of the channel in 2014 by which time Madhavan had taken Asianet to other markets in the south, sources said.
Uday Shankar’s appointment pits him against his former colleagues Sanjay Gupta and Ajit Mohan, who now head Google and Facebook, respectively
But handling national television operations will not be easy at a time when the broadcasting market in India is heading towards a consolidation. Sony Pictures Network is talking to billionaire 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.
According to the data by the Broadcast Audience Research Council, Star’s All-India viewership (excluding news) stands at 20 per cent, Zee Entertainment comes close at 18 per cent, while Sony Pictures Network and Viacom18 have a 9 per cent share each in the market.
Hotstar, meanwhile, is the largest over-the-top (OTT) platform in India, with a subscriber of 200 million. On Tuesday, Shankar said Hotstar had crossed 400 million downloads this year, with the number expected to grow as the OTT player increasing sports and entertainment content.
“A paradigm shift is happening as far as viewing habits go. About 200 million people are coming and watching Hotstar without any cricket, for whatever length of time in a month. Compare that with television where the reach is about 700 million in a month. It tells you how comfortably and seamlessly consumers in this country have taken to watching content on mobile phones,” he said.