Uday Shankar will step down as president, The Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific and chairman, Star & Disney India, effective Dec. 31, 2020. He will now pursue an entrepreneurial career.
Shankar will work with Rebecca Campbell, chair of Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international segment to identify his successor.
Shankar was in his role from February 2019. Previously, he was president of 21st Century Fox for Asia and the chair and CEO of Star India. He took over the leadership of Star India in 2007, where he not only transformed the Star business into one of the largest and most successful media companies in Asia, but also played a significant role in revolutionizing the media landscape of the region.
His successes include consolidating Star’s sports broadcasting operations through 21st Century Fox’s acquisition of its joint venture with ESPN. Driven by the lucrative Indian Premier League Cricket tournament, the rights for which Star India paid $2.55 billion in 2017, and a plethora of local sports rights, Shankar made Star Sports the region’s largest sport aggregator.
Shankar said, “I have always believed in the power of creativity and cutting-edge technology to create a better world and consider myself incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to do so at Star, 21CF and now at The Walt Disney Company. As I look back on this journey, I take pride in having set ambitious goals in my professional career, and achieving all that we set out to do. 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.”
“I want to thank Uday for his leadership and dedication to our APAC business,” said Campbell. “With the successful launch of Disney Plus throughout the region, he has helped put The Walt Disney Company in a commanding position in this dynamic and incredibly strategic part of the world. His vast experience and expertise have been invaluable in bringing together a strong, cohesive APAC leadership team to chart a path forward for our streaming businesses in the region and beyond. Uday has been a great friend, colleague and valued counselor to me personally, and I know I speak for all of DTCI when I say he will be greatly missed. At the same time, I understand and respect his desire to make this change. I am extremely grateful that he has agreed to stay on to help ensure a seamless transition.”
Under Shankar’s leadership, Hotstar — now rebranded as Disney Plus Hotstar — became the region’s most popular streaming platform.
Shankar previously served as 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 launched of Aaj Tak, Hindi-language news channel, in 2000 and Headlines Today, English news channel, in 2003.
A former president of Indian Broadcasting Federation, Shankar is currently senior vice president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and in line to take over as its next president.