As president, The Walt Disney Company APAC and Chairman, Star & Disney India, Uday Shankar leads the charge for Disney’s transformation into a direct-to-consumer company in the most exciting region of the world. He is also focused on creating deeply local media assets in the region. Along with his leadership of Disney’s media networks and direct-to-consumer businesses, Shankar also oversees Disney’s film distribution and content sales operations in APAC, which has emerged as the fastest growing market for this business.
Prior to his current role, Uday was president of 21st Century Fox for Asia and the chairman & CEO of Star India. He took over the leadership of Star India in 2007 and since then has transformed Star into one of the largest and most successful media companies in Asia. A believer in the power of local execution, Shankar led the company’s aggressive foray into regional and local language programming, transforming Star into a content powerhouse which now broadcasts more than 30,000 hours of content every year. He also consolidated Star’s sports broadcasting operations through 21st Century Fox’s acquisition of its joint venture with ESPN. Today, Star Sports is India’s largest sports broadcaster and is fundamentally redefining India’s sports ecosystem. In a notoriously single sport country, Star has launched multiple domestic sports leagues like those in Kabaddi and Football and has pioneered the agenda of creating a thriving multi-sports culture.
Under Shankar’s leadership, Star has also made strides in disrupting the country’s digital landscape with the launch of Hotstar, which is now India’s largest over-the-top (OTT) platform for professionally produced content and has gone global in its footprint with offerings in the US, Canada and the UK. With its strong technology muscle, Hotstar has guided the evolution of Star beyond a traditional media institution into a leading consumer technology company. It is now the largest digital video platform outside of US and China. Under his leadership, Star has transformed into a multi-screen, multi-genre media network and reaches more than 790 million viewers every month in more than 100 countries. It broadcasts 60+ TV channels in 8 different languages in India, reaching 9 out of every 10 C&S TV homes.
In addition to his leadership of Star, Shankar has played a key role in shaping the media and entertainment sector in India, bringing reforms for the industry and its consumers. He has been at the forefront of landmark initiatives in television broadcasting including self-regulation and digitization of the television distribution ecosystem. Currently, he is senior vice president of FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry), chairman of FICCI’s Media and Entertainment Committee and is the former president of the Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF).
A trained journalist, Shankar also pioneered the development of the TV news ecosystem in India. Prior to Star India, he was the CEO and editor of Star News, which was the first 24-hour news channel in India. He was also the editor and news director at TV Today Group, where he spearheaded the launch of Aaj Tak, a leading Hindi news channel, in 2000 and Headlines Today, a leading English news channel, in 2003.
Shankar holds an M. Phil in Economic History from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi.