Television

ESPN ropes in Jasdeep Pannu as India TV initiatives head

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MUMBAI: Leading global sports network ESPN is slowly but steadily rebuilding itself in the Indian television space, after exiting its 50:50 sports broadcasting joint venture with Star India in 2012.

Last year, it bounced back into the Indian television ecosystem in a partnership with Sony Pictures Networks (SPN) in an initiative that would see it giving birth to many channels, new program, online initiatives, among other things. At least that’s what MSM India CEO NP Singh and ESPN international Executive vice-president and managing director Russell Wolff had stated at the time of the launch of the new venture.

January 2016 saw Sony Kix being rebranded as Sony ESPN and Sony ESPN HD, the first of the many channels the two want to launch in India.

As a first step on the talent front, ESPN has brought in sports television veteran Jasdeep Pannu as head of its TV initiatives in India. Pannu joined the company in July 2016 but has been working in a low key manner since then.

For the programming vet, it is a home coming of sorts. In an earlier innings with Sony Entertainment Television, according to information available with indiantelevision.com, he was senior vice-president and head of programming for its Max channel. At Max, he led a 150-strong content development and execution team on the IPL to present cricket as an entertainment experience and won multiple awards for best programming. He developed the team from ground-up, enabled disruptive thinking and innovative execution. He was one of the key executives involved in the positioning of the IPL as an inclusive sports event for mass audiences. Expanded audience share among women and younger viewers, increased reach by over 20 million viewers.

He followed that with a year or so long stint with Star Sports wherein he worked on integrating the ESPN sports production team into the new post-merger sports network’s team structure. He hired a 150-person team in six weeks - drove the organisational design process obtaining management and HR approvals.

His last assignment prior to joining ESPN, was with A&E Networks as the EVP and head of content for ten months.

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