Uday Shankar, Chairman of Star & Disney India and president of The Walt Disney Company APAC, has decided to step down from his position. Shankar, one of India’s top media and entertainment executives, will stay until December 31st at Disney to select his successor and ensure a smooth transition.
Shankar said in a statement, “I have always believed in the power of imagination and cutting-edge technology to create a better world and consider myself extremely lucky to have had the chance to do so at Star, 21CF and now at The Walt Disney Company.” “As I look back on this journey, I am proud to have set ambitious goals in my professional career and to accomplish all that we have set out to do.” He added that he had been considering the issue of how he could give back to the nation, community, and industry that had given him so much for some time now.
I agree that encouraging and mentoring a new generation of entrepreneurs will be the best way to express my gratitude to all of them as they set out to create innovative ideas that will have a positive effect on countless lives. In order to accomplish this, I plan to partner with global investors and pioneers,’ said Shankar. Industry gossip suggests he might join former employer James Murdoch, who set up Lupa Systems’ family office.
Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International Segment Chairman Rebecca Campbell said that the vast experience and expertise of Shankar was invaluable in putting together a solid, unified APAC leadership team to map a path forward for our streaming companies in the region and beyond. For his leadership and dedication to our APAC company, I want to thank Uday. He has helped place the Walt Disney Company in a commanding position in this competitive and extremely strategic part of the world with the successful launch of Disney+ in the country, she said.
Uday has personally been a wonderful friend, colleague, and respected counselor to me, and I know I speak for all of the DTCI when I say he’s going to be missed greatly. I understand and admire, at the same time, his willingness to make this move. I am deeply thankful that he has decided to remain on to help guarantee a smooth transition.
Shankara, who since 2007 has led Star India as CEO, was subsequently promoted to the position of president of 21st Century Fox Asia, prior to Disney’s acquisition of the company. Later, in addition to his position as chairman of Star & Disney India, Disney appointed him president of Asia Pacific. Shankar, known for taking big and bold risks, turned Star Network into the biggest entertainment business in India. Star India purchased Asianet and Maa TV Network under his leadership and purchased ESPN’s interest in ESPN Star Sports India (ESS) from a joint venture partner ESPN. He also played a part in launching many domestic sports leagues, such as those in Kabaddi and Football.
Under his leadership, Star also launched Hotstar, now the largest over-the-top ( OTT) site in India, which has now gone global with offerings in the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom. He was CEO and editor of Star News, which was then a joint venture between Star India and the ABP Group, prior to Star.
Shankar was also the TV Today Group’s editor and news chief, where he spearheaded the launch in 2000 of Aaj Tak, a leading Hindi news channel, and in 2003 of Headlines Today (now India Today TV). He is currently the senior vice president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), a former president of the Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF), and is in line to take over as its next president.