The Walt Disney Company, which gobbled up UTV Software Communications
last year, is building four specific lines of business in
India centring around five brands.
Film, Digital Media and Consumer Products will be the four
verticals Disney will focus on. "We have five franchises
- Disney, UTV, Marvel, Bindass and the newly acquired Star
Wars - to play around in India. The acquisition of UTV has
given us 250 million new consumers in this market that we
couldn't reach before," said Disney International MD
already have a strong relationship with two of those five
brands, and seek them in at least three of those core businesses.
the keynote address at Ficci Frames 2013, Bird said that with
the acquisition of UTV and the creation of the new Walt Disney
Company India, Disney became Indias leading film studio
and TV producer. "We are now one of Indias leading
broadcasters, reaching more than 100 million viewers every
week across the country. The UTV deal also positioned us as
a significant player in the digital media space, thanks to
Indiagames, the number one mobile gaming company in this market.
And, just as importantly, the deal gave us the brilliance
and vision of Ronnie Screwvala the man behind UTVs
incredible rise to build The Walt Disney Company in
What was the thinking behind buying UTV? When we made
the decision to buy UTV, we did it with two considerations
in mind the first was to create a diverse company in
India; but also importantly it was to acquire the talents
of Ronnie Screwvala to run the new company. As many of you
know, Ronnie is a rare breed of entrepreneurs who has successfully
built UTV and embraced Indian and Western cultures. I am so
proud to count Ronnie as one of my friends and to have him
lead the Walt Disney Company in India with his magnificent
creative management team, Bird said.
also spoke about Disney in India being different from what
it is elsewhere. The Walt Disney Company India will
be unlike any other Indian media company: none will have the
breadth of brands and franchises that TWDC India will have.
No other Indian media company will have the breadth of businesses
we will have and no other Indian media company will connect
with generations of consumers like The Walt Disney Company
India will do.
India, we have built a creative prowess, second only to that
found in the U.S. We have creative teams here in India who
produce a slate of diverse films, produce a spectrum of original
TV programming across our networks, build mobile games and
applications and create style guides for our consumer products
business. We are building a company that is far greater in
scope than just one business, or being defined as being just
in distribution and marketing. We are building the Indian
Walt Disney Company.
is excited about working with Indian talent, in-front and
behind the camera, to create local franchises and look to
export this talent to markets outside of India - offering
opportunites for talent in Hollywood movies. The Disney-UTV
team is already working with their colleagues at Disney, Pixar,
Marvel and now Lucas to innovate and produce even better product
for here in India. Our Interactive team is working very closely
with our Japan team - where we do the most amount of innovation
in interactive and mobile outside the US - to really take
this space in India to the next level and be ready for the
Broadband wave that India will no doubt see."
aim at the end of the day is to build a content, creative,
brand and franchise company in India. Of course, I
have not touched on our Live Entertainment business as that
is a work in process..so watch this space, Bird added.
also spoke about the rapid rise of new technology and the
fact that Indias more recent focus on this sector means
that the country is capable of the kind of instantaneous shifts
and opportunities in the media and entertainment space that
simply are not possible in countries like the U.S. that will
literally have to rip out existing infrastructure in order
to replace it with the new technology that will drive the
future. Thats an expensive proposition and one
that will slow critical change in some of those more established
markets while India has the chance to define itself
with the latest technology and innovation unencumbered by
the remains of technology that defined the last century.
in Markets: Disney recognises that there are different
markets around the globe and it is no longer domestic
We recognize that each market we enter essentially needs
its own Disney company with strategies
and products and messages that are compatible with the culture
and relevant to local consumers. And we see tremendous opportunity
in rapidly emerging markets like China, Russia, Latin America,
South Korea and, of course, India so connecting
with consumers in these regions is a key strategic priority
for Disney, and will be integral to our future growth,"
why Disney's strategy for each region reflects local market
realities and opportunities. "Our approach here in India
is focused on media and entertainment because thats
where we see the greatest potential for Disney, not only because
the industry here is poised for a huge leap forward, but because
of the rapidly rising middle class of consumers and their
traditional focus on the family," Bird noted.
is radically different than our strategy in China, for example,
which is much more restrictive on the content imported into
the country. In China, were focused on building our
presence and our brand by telling Disney stories through theme
parks and a strong retail effort. Likewise, our China strategy
is quite different from our approach in Latin America, where
were transitioning Disney from a high-end, rather elite
brand, into the broader mass market.
Disney brand will remain strong and clear and everything we
do anywhere in the world will reflect the brand values consumers
know and trust but each market will dictate how consumers
access and interact with that brand. At the Walt Disney Company,
we believe that in stories we find the imagination needed
to envision a better tomorrow, and the inspiration to make
that vision come true. This belief guides how we act as a
company, and how we connect kids, families, and friends first
with each other, and then with the causes they care most passionately
about, Bird stated.
Disney Media Networks co-chair and Disney-ABC Television Group
president Anne Sweeney spoke about the importance of understanding
audiences and what they aspire for. That is why Disney is
in the field everyday listening to kids, parents in terms
of who they are what they do and what they aspire for. Then
Disney builds stories around this. This is the strategy that
Disney decided to do back in 1996 when Sweeney joined the
company. "At that time there was confusion about the
brand identity of Disney Channel. By doing research which
focused on the quality of conversation with kids and parents
rather than on the quantity Disney channel was able to become
a powerhouse," she said.
also noted that to make great content at times one has to
make unexpected choices. She gave the example of Hannah
Montana where Miley Cyrus, an unknown, was cast as the
channel spotted her potential. We decided to take the
riskier road and that led to greater reward," she said.
Speaking on localisation, Sweeney said Disney started doing
local shows in India in 2011. "We have five local shows
in production," she added. "We also have a further
four pilots in the pipeline. We celebrate cultural events
like Diwali and Holi.
Sweeney said that it is important to strike a balance between
adapting foreign formats and creating truly original content.
She also touched on technology saying that one can make feature
film content on a television budget. "One could do things
that a few years ago were considered unthinkable. The drama
Lost, for instance, used CGI," she averred.