What could be Uday Shankar's next move?
We dwell in detail on the few speculations doing rounds on Uday Shankar's future course
With the news about Uday Shankar stepping down as President, The Walt Disney Company APAC, and Chairman, Star & Disney India, effective as of December 31, 2020, there are speculations already abuzz about his next move.
If we look at Shankar’s professional journey, it is replete with his trademark leadership style which can be summed up as ---think big, scale up and disrupt.
Over the past decade and a half, Shankar has emerged as a towering personality in the media and entertainment space. His quiet demeanour and astute understanding of media landscape has become part of boardroom folklore. For example, when Star India won global broadcasting and digital media rights for the Indian Premier League for a whopping Rs 16,347 crore for five years, many critics had rolled their eyes but had to give in as Shankar’s gameplan worked well. And as they say, rest is history.
Shankar is also credited with leading Star’s aggressive foray into regional and local language programming, transforming the network into a content powerhouse. He also made strides in the digital landscape with the launch of Hotstar, which is now India’s largest over-the-top (OTT) platform.
Uday Shankar is also the only media thought leader to have won two coveted titles--Impact Person of The Year (2010) and Impact Person of the Decade (2014). Impact Person of the Year is the highest and the most coveted and respected award in Marketing , Advertising and Media.
Even prior to his stint at Star, Shankar’s charisma was his defining trait, be it during his stint as CEO and Editor of Star News (now ABP News) or Editor and News Director at TV Today Group, where he spearheaded the launch of Aaj Tak and Headlines Today (now India Today).
Though it's not clear what his next move would be, based on our deliberations with industry experts, here are three speculations doing rounds.
Buzz is that Shankar may lead the Reliance media empire. It must be mentioned that until last month, the proposed merger between Reliance-owned Viacom18 and Sony Pictures Networks was on the cards and was likely to be announced mid-September. However, owing to a last-minute strategic re-think by Reliance Industries Limited, the deal has reportedly been called off.
Speculations of his joining Murdoch’s Lupa Systems are also running rife. It would be relevant to mention that James Murdoch’s new venture was keen to buy a stake in Zee Entertainment, India’s largest private broadcaster, which was finally bought by Invesco Oppenheimer Developing Markets Fund for $600 million.
Buzz is also that Shankar may be serious about his political innings with the blessings of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and other tall leaders in the country.
Further, two more positions that Shankar was offered were turned down by him in the last six months. First being a global leadership role at Disney s Burbank Headquarters at California, USA. Second was the position of the Global CEO of NewsCorp, based again out of NewsCorp Headquarters, New York. However, exchange4media has learnt that Shankar turned down both the jobs as he did not wish to move to USA and was keen to have Mumbai and India as his base.
But Shankar on his part has maintained that he plans to partner with global investors and pioneers to “give back”.
“For some time now, I have been contemplating the question of how I give back to the country, community and the industry that have given me so much. I think the best way to express my gratitude to all of them will be to support and mentor a new generation of entrepreneurs as they set out to create transformational solutions that will have a positive impact on countless lives. I intend to partner with global investors and pioneers to achieve this,” he said.
Shankar's reputation, rolodex of experience could lend that Midas Touch to any venture or entrepreneur. His new venture is likely to be a mission to solve India's problems through Indian entrepreneurs and entreprenurship.
Shankar, as they say in cricketing lingo, is bit like Sachin Tendulkar or Donald Bradman of media. Every time he goes out to bat, he is expected to score a century, and he does that a lot of times as he has done in past. In his new innings, Uday Shankar is expected to score a triple century and there is a good chance he may end up doing that. So Keep watching the media game.
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