K Madhavan, Star & Disney India’s new Country Manager, who turned the tide for Asianet

Industry leaders believe Madhavan was the natural successor for the big role & the expectation from him is to replicate his success in overseeing Star’s ventures in the southern states

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Dec 16, 2019 8:51 AM

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K Madhavan

Star and Disney India has a new Country Manager - K Madhavan. With the media giant’s outgoing Country Manager Sanjay Gupta heading towards his exit, Star has a new leadership for its TV vertical.

All eyes — Star’s employees and the entire media fraternity — are now looking at Madhavan to begin his reign.

From banking to television

Making a transition from banking and corporate finance, in 1999 Madhavan joined Asianet Communications Ltd. as Director and took charge of the company as MD and CEO in 2000.

He joined Star as South Head in 2008 after Star acquired Asianet. Madhavan is also Director of IBF and the President of Kerala Television Federation.

Not many know how the man single-handedly transformed Asianet from a regional entity to a global brand. In 1999, when he joined Asianet, the regional brand from South India was on the verge of closing down. He then took over the responsibility to turn the tide for the network.

Turning a struggling regional channel into a media powerhouse, Madhavan ensured that the Asianet bouquet of channels became the undisputed market leader in Kerala. But he didn't stop there. The channel joined hands with Star India in 2008 under Madhavan’s leadership and the brand became the most successful non-Arabic channel in the Middle East and the most prominent Malayalam channel in Europe and America.

The new role

Madhavan is set to don a new hat and this transition will be a huge one from the existing role.

Before being promoted as the Country Manager, Madhavan was Managing Director of South Business, Star India, a position he assumed in 2016. He was overseeing the business ventures of Star in the four southern states and a portfolio of regional channels in Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu.

In this new role, all functional heads will now report to Madhavan who will be reporting to Uday Shankar, President, The Walt Disney Company, Asia Pacific, & Chairman, Star and Disney India.

Though Madhavan comes with over a decade of TV experience, his immediate focus could be getting a hang of the Hindi GECs. Also, the industry is going through a consolidation phase and in such a scenario taking Star India to greater heights is likely to be on his agenda.

Industry expectations

High hopes ride on Madhavan as the industry vouches for the sincerity of the man.
“Madhavan has been instrumental in transforming Asianet as the undisputed leader in Malayalam by acquiring more than 50 per cent of the market share. Under his trusted leadership, the channel has reached more than 100 countries. Madhavan believes in the entrepreneurial culture. His vision has led us to set benchmarks in quality programming in the South, which is now being replicated throughout India,” said one of his former colleagues from the media fraternity.

Industry leaders believe Madhavan was the natural successor. “He has been in the company for over a decade. He has been the investor himself in Asianet. Though Madhavan was appointed as MD of South Business in 2016, he has been with Star India since 2008. He is a natural fit since he comes with close to two decades of knowledge of TV business,” said another senior level executive in Star India.

Madhavan is known to enjoy a good rapport with his colleagues in the organization. “He is a great guy and good with people. Also, he has been a part of all important decisions since he has been in the top management. He knows the system well and even the work culture at Star which becomes a bit of a problem for some outsiders. An outsider would take time to settle down, but for Madhavan the transition to the big role will be swift,” another of his colleagues from the company told exchange4media.

While Madhavan takes off in the new role as a natural fit, whether he continues to have the Midas Touch as Star’s new Country manager is something only time will tell.

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