Variety 500 names Star India chairman, CEO Uday Shankar in Top Global Executives

Star India Chairman and CEO Uday Shankar

Star India Chairman, CEO and the 21st Century Fox Asia President Uday Shankar has been named among the World’s Top Executives by Variety 500 – the index of 500 most influential global leaders.

“21st Century Fox’s Star India Group is the dominant player in his region, with a market valuation of some $14 billion; Uday Shankar is very much determined to keep it that way. While Star’s portfolio of 49 entertainment and lifestyle channels is enormously successful in its own right, it is the 10 sports channels that are the growth drivers,” Variety 500 stated in its citation.

Variety has announced the decoration on its official Twitter handle. “With a market valuation of some $14 billion, Uday Shakar’s @starindia has a dominant position in the Indian sports and fastest growing SVOD services in the country. The Chairman/CEO is recognised as part fo #Variety500 presented by @verizondigtal,” read the tweet.

Variety500 annually presents an unranked list of leading corporates, executives, producers, artists, representatives and financiers across film, television, technology, music, gaming and live entertainment. The industry leaders are picked by the Variety editorial board via an extensive research and selection process.

The man behind Star India’s phenomenal success has had a humble beginning as a political journalist with the Times of India, before establishing himself as an unparalleled television professional. His extreme editorial skills, understanding of the market and astute leadership came to the forefront as he launched TV Today Group’s 24-hour news channel Aajtak. Under Uday, India’s leading news channel commanded 85% market share.

Uday Shankar’s journey with the Star India has started as the Director News of Star News, the 24-hour news channel before he took the reign of Star Group’s India business, which today is a $14 billion empire. Uday has been the visionary behind Star India’s two landmark cricket acquisitions – the Indian Premier League for ₹16,347.5 crore for the 2018-2022 five-year cycle and the Board of Control for Cricket in India media rights for ₹6,138.1 crore for the 2018-2023 cycle.

Uday Shankar has also diversified the Star India sports business into non-cricket disciplines with a $3.2 billion investment in hockey, soccer and badminton leagues. Another major investment, Hotstar, the streaming platform, has been extremely successful on more than 800 million smartphones and close to 100 million subscribers in 2016. Star India has also created an extremely successful commercial portfolio for India’s indigenous sports kabaddi. From a nondescript rural game, Kabaddi has emerged India’s most valuable non-cricket sport till date. The ₹60 crore per annum title sponsorship deal with Vivo is the highest outside cricket in the history of Indian sports.

Variety 500 has highlighted Uday Shankar’s achievement in driving Star India towards a dominant position in Indian Sports Broadcasting Business and the fastest growing SVOD space.

The Variety500 citation on Uday Shankar’s decoration reads “21st Century Fox’s Star India Group is the dominant player in his region, with a market valuation of some $14 billion; Uday Shankar is very much determined to keep it that way. While Star’s portfolio of 49 entertainment and lifestyle channels is enormously successful in its own right, it is the 10 sports channels that are the growth drivers.

“In 2012, eyebrows were raised when Shankar paid $750 million for Indian cricket broadcast rights through 2018. Shankar knew better than anyone that in India cricket is not just a sport, but a religion and the move reaped handsome dividends. The bidding for the next round of rights is expected to be in the billions.”

“Shankar is not placing all his bets on cricket. Witnessing a spurt of interest in other sports, he has invested $3.2 billion in Indian soccer, hockey and badminton leagues. Shankar’s other big bet that paid off has been Hotstar, a streaming platform that has been wildly successful in a country with more than 800 million smartphones. Hotstar, that offers both paid and premium content, touched 100 million subscribers in 2016.”

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