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A close look at Disney’s India plans

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A close look at Disney’s India plans

Walt Disney might be getting all set to compete in the Indian market but it isn’t prepared yet to divulge any details on most of its activities – people, programming or other plans. Industry sources, however, inform that the company has taken its claim on the present resources and as far as programming is concerned, work has begun in full swing and it’s definitely the desi way for Disney.


STAR India, Sony Entertainment Television, Cartoon Network, JWT, Lowe and Contract are just some of the organisations that have experienced people leaving to join Disney. Of the people who are joining the channel soon are also STAR India’s ex VP Marketing, Mubina Ansari.

While the marketing and finance of the company is in place, decisions on programming and production will be in place soon.

With Rajat Jain on the helm of affairs as MD, Hema Govindan is placed as Marketing Head. While Govindan has been associated with Disney even before the Indian structure was shaped, Director-Finance for the company, Sunil Shahani comes from MTV, where he was senior director finance.

Of the other people in the marketing team, Vaishali Sharma reports into Govindan. Under Sharma, brand managers for the specific channels are recruited too. Contract’s Neville Bastawalla is on Disney Family and Anand Roy on Toon Disney. The company is still to decide on a third brand manager for Playhouse Disney.


In regards to programming, sources inform that Disney is looking at Hindi content. As is known, the company intends to enter the market with three channels – Disney Family, Playhouse Disney and Toon Disney.

Playhouse Disney is one of the four original productions of Disney. In its initial form this was only a format, which has now evolved into a full fledged channel in some markets. The company has already commissioned production house Miditech to adapt the television property, Playhouse Disney to the Indian market. This format targets 4-6 yrs and Disney has given the production house time till October end to complete the adaptation.

While in markets like UK, Spain, France and now Asia, Playhouse is a full fledged channel, in India, word is that it will begin as a two hour band on the mainstay channel, Disney Family. Sources also inform that the channel executives have been in talks with the likes of ad film maker Nilkashi Sengupta too for some projects.

Like The Disney Channel or ABC internationally, Disney Family would be competing with general entertainment channels. Internationally, primetime programming consists of content like live action and Disney movies. Toon Disney is 100 per cent animation content, competing with Cartoon Network and Animax. Playhouse Disney, when it launches targets the pre-schoolers and would be creating its own niche in the market.

The other three original Disney productions that are locally adapted are Art Attack, Zapping Zone and Disney Paradise.

Cartoon Network’s Sr Programming Manager Aditi Syed is heading programming now for Toon Disney and the Playhouse. Syed's expertise so far, has largely been in acquisitions. The channel is in the process of confirming a programming head and most who’s who of the business are in the running.


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