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STAR Entertainment: Of re-focussing, re-learning, re-tooling and re-leading

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STAR Entertainment: Of re-focussing, re-learning, re-tooling and re-leading

When STAR India decided to divide the company into STAR Group and STAR Entertainment, with Sameer Nair taking charge of the latter as CEO, the move meant intensive focus on these areas of work by their respective leaders. But what is the road ahead? Looking at STAR Entertainment, which embodies the television business constituting 90 per cent of STAR in India at present – what can be expected from this media major in days to come. Sameer Nair answers some of these questions.

Speaking more on how the experience has been, Nair said, “After six years of being an absolute No. 1 – the leader in content and, therefore, ad sales and distribution – one still had to relearn, retool and re-lead all over again. A lot of the assumptions and learnings of the past may not stand today. Being successful in the past is no guarantee that the formula will work in future.”

“In the new structure, we are completely focussed on our base business – the TV stations, their content distribution and ad sales, setting up of such new TV stations and using these TV stations and their marketing muscle to push our way into wireless and Internet, using our creative talents in these new media fields. It’s a nice triple play we have that we build on. That’s pretty much our game and we’re entirely and completely focussed on it,” Nair added.

He believed that the growth in technology had allowed companies like STAR Entertainment to spread their wings in the South markets as well, which earlier wasn’t possible. “Essentially what the new distribution platforms in the form of DTH, IPTV and CAS do is challenge status quo that existed so far and we see a real opportunity in that. So, we continue to push on the television business by maintaining our grip on Hindi television and making gradual steps into regional television,” Nair further said.

Another area of focus will be the brand STAR Entertainment itself. Some of the new initiatives that would be seen from the entity would be in the areas of licensing and merchandising. Work has already begun on this count – STAR has signed a deal for releasing DVDs of ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’, and Nair explained that the same would be seen for some other shows as well. This is an unprecedented move from the channel undertaken so that these brands reached viewer homes.

“The experience you get on television, you can get in different fields as well. We are looking to play at more consumer touch points,” Nair said, adding, “We’ll try to get the brand out in as many ways as possible, so we are working at licensing and merchandising the brand, the shows and the characters. We will use the Internet and the mobile to take our brand further.”

In addition to this, STAR programming is already seen on channels like POGO, Cartoon Network and Disney. “The stated objective really is to take the brand STAR Entertainment and all that it stands for, along with its popular distinctive content across as many platforms and get to the consumers in as many ways as possible and to do so in an extremely profitable manner. Profitability will not come to STAR Entertainment in the form of increasing revenue, but also from controlling cost,” Nair further said.

He stressed on the digital focus of the channel also stating that even as there was time for India to do a US or even a Korea, things were changing and STAR wanted to be a leader in the space when they had changed in that direction. Needless to say, with its bid to re-focus and re-deal with many of its areas of work, STAR Entertainment is prepared for the competition ahead.

“We have been in a state of absolute supremacy for six years and now when this opportunity has been given to me, there are hard times ahead – there is a certain amount of change in the market, there is a change in the whole content business, there is the emergence of new threats, there are old rivals who are cropping up, so it is interesting,” observed Nair.

Interesting for the industry at large, where the leader’s decisions make defining moments for the whole system, Nair is right when he knows that the world is watching, just as we are.


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