K Madhavan to manage Disney’s TV business in India

K Madhavan, currently managing director of Star India’s south business, has been appointed country manager of The Walt Disney Company India’s television business.

In a management shuffle, departing executive Sanjay Gupta’s role is being split into two – television and digital. Madhavan will manage the television business, including pay-television platform Star, and report to Uday Shankar, chairman of Star and Disney Indian and president of The Walt Disney Company APAC. He will take the role from January 1, 2020. The digital business – essentially, the Hotstar OTT service – will for now be directly managed by Shankar. The Hotstar chief executive position currently lies vacant after the departure of Ajit Mohan last year.

Last month, it was announced that Gupta was departing Star to join Google as country manager for India. In September, Mohan became vice president and managing director of Facebook’s Indian business.

The Star shuffle was revealed in an internal memo reported by Indian newspaper the Economic Times. In the memo, Shankar said: “In order to create minimum disruption to the business, I have decided K Madhavan, who has built out regional entertainment business, will now look after all our TV businesses across markets and verticals.”

Madhavan is the former head of Asianet, a television business that was taken over by Star between 2008 and 2014. This April, his role as MD of Star’s south business was expanded to cover running all the company’s regional channels.

Shankar also announced that Nitin Bawankule, who is in charge of advertising sales for Hindi speaking markets, sports and Hotstar, will report to Madhavan for HSM and sports sales, and Shankar for Hotstar sales.

Last week, Shankar announced that Hotstar had passed 400m downloads, and commented on the shift in Indian television viewing to mobile: “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.”