With digital streaming platforms garnering huge appreciation during the coronavirus lockdown, Uday Shankar, the president of The Walt Disney Company APAC and chairman of Star and Disney India, has reaffirmed his commitment to television despite the rising popularity of OTT platforms like Hotstar.
Rumours about shutting down linear platforms have been doing the rounds for a number of months in particular after the closure of Star TV operations in USA and the success of Hotstar. Rubbishing those rumours, Shankar in an interview cited on WorldScreen.com said, “I’m not ready to give up on TV. Television will undergo correction, the business models need to get fixed. However, in markets like India and other parts of Asia, television still has a fair bit of runway. Now television will also have to compete with streaming services. Some streaming services will emerge as real challengers. In India, Southeast Asia, all these markets, we’re very focused on making sure that Disney+ and Hotstar can compete with television.”
Meanwhile, Shankar spoke about the impact coronavirus has taken on the media. He said, “Media was massively overdue for a change. The transformation was long overdue—in our strategy, in our ways of doing business. Muscle memory and the inertia generated over all these years has kept us going. COVID-19 and the disruption it has caused has brought the spotlight back firmly on that. We’re all thinking about how to get back. That’s a great opportunity. The question is how many of us will be able to take advantage of that opportunity. Those who do not will pay the price.”
Shankar also referred to the coronavirus situation accelerating challenges that have pay TV has been facing over the last few months. He further stated, “If you look at the rest of Asia, outside of India, pay TV has been facing lots of challenges. If anything, COVID will accelerate those challenges further. The dependence in India and other parts of the world on ad sales was very high. In India, it’s disproportionately high. As a result of COVID, it will be several quarters if not a couple of years before we go back to the old levels of advertising, if at all. People will have to think of different business models to make money.”
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