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Star India to contribute greatly to 21st Century Fox’s growth: Rupert Murdoch

MUMBAI: Star India, the crown jewel in the international business of 21st Century Fox, will contribute greatly to the media conglomerate’s future growth, feel 21st Century Fox executive chairs Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch.

Rupert and his son James (21st Century Fox CEO) have time and again praised the company’s India business, guiding that Star India will achieve an operating profit of $500 million by 2018 and $1 billion by end of 2020.

Rupert-MurdochIn the annual report of 21st Century Fox for FY2015 (July–June), the Murdochs stated, “In India we believe Star will contribute greatly to our future growth. Over the last 12 months, Star expanded on its well-established leadership position in general entertainment, moving aggressively into the sports market with Star Sports, which is seeing exciting growth.”

Star India is a wholly owned subsidiary of 21st Century Fox. It operates 51 channels in over 100 countries across the Middle East and North Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.

One of the businesses that Star is bullish on is the sports business. “The ICC Cricket World Cup tournament on Star Sports earlier this year marked India’s largest television event ever with hundreds of millions of viewers, planting a flag for the recently re-launched sports network,” the chairmen stated.

They also mentioned the regional expansion of the network that included a $375 million acquisition of the broadcast business of Maa TV Network Ltd in February this year. The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals. The transaction is expected to close before 31 December.

Lachlan_Murdoch

Lachlan Murdoch

“Star is also expanding its entertainment reach with the acquisition of the Telegu-language networks group Maa Television Network Ltd, adding to Star’s portfolio its eighth language and one of India’s largest regional markets,” the Murdochs said.

Moreover, the company is betting big on the digital OTT platform Hotstar, which was launched earlier this year. “In February, Star launched its online entertainment destination Hotstar, which drew more than 20 million downloads in four months and firmly positions us to benefit from the digital transformation in the world’s fastest growth market,” they further said.

Star India develops, produces and broadcasts 51 channels in seven languages, which are distributed throughout Asia, the UK, Continental Europe, North America and parts of Africa to their subscribers.

Star India’s channels include the flagship Hindi general entertainment channels Star Plus and Life OK, the Hindi movie channels Star Gold and Movies OK, the English general entertainment channels Star World, Star World Premier HD, FX, the English movie channels Star Movies and Star Movies Action, the Bengali general entertainment channel Star Jalsha, the Bengali movie channel Jalsha Movies, the Marathi general entertainment channel Star Pravah, the South Indian languages general entertainment channels Asianet, Asianet Movies, Suvarna, Suvarna Plus and Vijay TV, and eight Star Sports channels.

Star India owns media rights to BCCI domestic and international cricket series matches in India through 2018, ICC matches through 2023, the England & Wales Cricket Board matches through 2017, Cricket Australia matches through 2017, Federation International De Hockey through 2022, Wimbledon through 2022, and Bundesliga through 2020.

In addition, it holds digital rights to the Indian Premier League through 2017.

Star India also has a 35 per cent stake in Football Sports Development Ltd, a joint venture with IMG-Reliance, and has launched the Indian Super League, a professional football league.

In March 2015, Star India, in association with its affiliate, acquired a 74 per cent majority stake in Mashal Sports Pvt Ltd in March 2015, for the operation of the Pro Kabaddi League.

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