At the recently concluded Asia Pacific Pay-TV Operators Summit, held in Bali between 22nd to 24th April 2015, Star India’s CEO Mr. Uday Shankar has spoken on their various recent initiatives and his own beliefs on the way forward for Star India in the Indian Media & Entertainment space.
While stressing that Media content has a huge role in shaping the sensibilities of the society and this role should not be underestimated.
He said “I am prejudiced towards aspirational content and cynical about cynical content. This is something we have always kept in mind while creating all of our content and is the same philosophy that we are bringing to sports as well.”
“Sports has a huge role to play in empowerment, especially in a country like India, where we need to make the society believe that even an uneducated person can aspire to something greater if he is talented in a sport. This is what has worked with Kabaddi in a big way” he added
On his philosophy behind content creation and regionalisation of the content, Uday Shankar stressed the need for a strong in-house creative team to deliver consistent success:
He said “India is a giant country with varied cultures and tastes. We used Asianet as a beach head for the south and elevated the quality of content dramatically with sharper storytelling, involving the best of the creative fraternity and breaking the caste divide between film and TV. For logistic reasons outsourcing production might make sense, but unless you internalize the core creative skill, you will not be able to sustain success, which is why we have built a robust internal creative team to ensure this”
On sports front Uday Shankar expressed the need for a hierarchy of sports leagues across India:
“We have applied the same philosophy that we had in our entertainment business to sports – creating content with deep local affinity using the audience aggregation power that cricket gave you. Sports broadcasting has been plagued by laziness and lack of innovation, treated merely as a distribution agent of acquired rights which is what we have tried to change with multiple local leagues. If it’s your team that’s playing you, even if it is not the best team, you would be deeply passionate about it. Creating a hierarchy of leagues across the country can be huge empowering phenomenon”
On their objective behind the launch of hotstar app and monetising opportunities that platform:
“Our objective behind hotstar was quite simple actually – a lot of audiences were consuming our content on other screens, but we were unhappy with the inability to control their viewing experience. We realised we own all of this IP and so came hotstar. I do not think that this is a “free model”. We need to keep the consumer at the centre while thinking about this and in a market like India, where data costs are still pretty high, the consumer is still paying a lot for the data – so it’s not particularly consumer-friendly to have them pay twice, especially at such a nascent stage.
The reason I’m excited about the OTT space is because it allows for democratization of creativity. However this is not the same as saying that anyone can create content”.
On their motive behind exploititation of big data and analytics and its benefits:
“At Star we use a lot of data and we value it deeply, however, let’s not become data monkeys. Data helps understands patterns but to understand these patterns and take a leap to what should be created next will still require creativity. No matter how much data we have, I don’t believe we will be able to automate the definition of the next blockbuster”