Disney hopes to replicate Star India’s success in other Asian markets

MUMBAI: Walt Disney chairman direct-to-consumer and international Kevin Mayer has stated that Asia in general and India, in particular, are key growth markets for the media conglomerate globally. Speaking at media & entertainment conclave APOS 2019, Mayer noted that India will serve as a guide in the company’s local content strategy in Asia.

“Local content is the winner in these markets. We have great global content, but if we’re going to be a big player in areas in Asia outside of India, local content is crucial to growing not only our direct-to-consumer business but also our traditional business. We view India as a guidepost,” he said during an interaction with Media Partners Asia executive director Vivek Couto.

Mayer also spoke about the region and highlighted the importance of India and the huge progress made under Uday Shankar’s leadership. “We’re focused on Asia as one of the growth drivers—it’s super important to us,” Mayer said.

He praised Star India by saying that the growth in Asia and particularly in India was a key reason why Disney acquired 21st Century Fox. “Star India is a crown jewel of that acquisition,” he asserted.

He also admired the progress made by Star India’s video streaming platform Hotstar which has 300 million monthly active users. Mayer wants the success achieved in India to be replicated in other Asian markets.

“One out of every four hours of television in India is delivered by a Star television network. That’s a model we’d love to see elsewhere in Asia—local traditional television and moving it over the top,” he stated.

Speaking about the direct to consumer strategy, Mayer said that the company has been looking at the benefits of this strategy for several years. “The only way to really get data on people’s affinities and usage patterns and viewing patterns is to have a direct relationship with them. We can use that data to personalize the experience and serve the consumer better. Also, it’s a big financial growth strategy. There was a whole part of the value chain that we were leaving to third parties.”

He also clarified that the goal of Disney+ is not to beat Netflix. “We’ll offer entirely different content on Disney+.” “We’re going to deploy Disney+ in one form or another in each market that matters.”

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