Star's Uday Shankar on distribution challenges, IPL, FTA vs. pay TV, innovations, Made in India content…and much more

Star's Uday Shankar on distribution challenges, IPL, FTA vs. pay TV, innovations, Made in India content…and much more


From the thirty seventh floor room, consisting of a table for the occupant to stand and work, some thought-provoking books and a huge TV screen, apart from other knick-knacks, the city life and environs below look scenic. Rather, most of the surrounding sea-facing skyscrapers in between the  green patches of land that could be seen below belie the image that it’s India. Until a Mumbai local train passes by, giving away the address of  Urmi Estate (which houses Star India's Hq) , it could have been located anywhere in Hong Kong or Singapore for that matter.

But in sharp contrast to the tranquil view of Mumbai from behind big glass windows of the thirty seventh floor, in most of the other 14 floors occupied by Star India in a tony building in South Mumbai’s Lower Parel business area, there is a sense of urgency --- and excitement. And, why not? After all one of the biggest media companies in India --- some say it’s the largest in terms of revenues --- has many things on the plates of every employee, including the top honchos residing in the top floor. Bagging the global media rights for the  much-coveted IPL  is just one of the many issues engaging Star India’s employees. Though, in all fairness, it won’t be wrong to state that IPL probably could be one of the most important issues presently. Simply because, as the dust settles on the euphoria of this massive win , the difficult task of planning for returns on  the investment of $ 2.55 billion starts now.

Ushered into the room with a view, its occupant and Star India chairman and CEO Uday Shankar shakes my hand warmly, exuding the same camaraderie that he did almost three decades back when we used to meet as journalist colleagues sometimes in the New Delhi house of one of his early mentors, Siddharth Ray (India’s first general manager  for Star TV  - yes, in the 90s it carried that name officially). Over tea (for him) and strong Espresso coffee for’s consulting editor Anjan Mitra, a wide range of media matters were debated for about 90 minutes. Edited excerpts from a free-wheeling interview follow. Read on:

How do you view the Indian broadcast and entertainment industry as of today?

There are two or three things that I feel very strongly about. From a consumer point of view it’s a great time for them because large volumes and range of domestic and global content is being made available to them at increasingly competitive prices. But when it comes to the industry itself, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Though the industry has grown dramatically in terms of the number of players in the last several years, the business case of the industry looks under pressure. When I say business case, I don’t mean just the profit model, which is under pressure for a large segment, but the sustainability itself for the whole industry. 

I think, the IPL bidding is a very interesting case in point and an indicator of things to happen in future in the media sector.  This is probably the only place and example where for a major content right, the contenders included two very strong media companies (Star and Sony Pictures Networks India), two big telecom companies (Airtel and Reliance Jio) and a couple of global digital/technology companies (including Facebook). And, they all valued the property almost equally as important and almost in the same ballpark.

So, media is no longer the sole domain of traditional media companies. We have heard this being said for some time now, but it played out for the first time in broad day light here. What is more significant is that such competitive bidding for content has not happened in the UK or the US, which are considered mature and big media markets with good broadband infrastructure, but in a country where the digital distribution of content is of very recent vintage.

I think in some way we set ourselves up for such high inflation by creating Hotstar, which led everybody to realize that there is a value in that kind of a business model. So, for the industry this is time to wake up and take note.

Third, while parts of the media and entertainment businesses have leaped forward as has the consumer, the distribution and the regulatory models remain locked up in legacy issues and that’s creating a bit of a mismatch. That’s a challenge that we need to solve together as an industry.

What are the problems besetting video content distribution in India?

There are various aspects. If you are talking about it in the digital domain, I think with the launch of Reliance Jio there has been a huge disruption. But access to data still remains limited and expensive. The broadband infrastructure has improved in the last 12 months or so, but is still nowhere where it should be. The number of smart phones has grown dramatically in India, but is still a small percentage of the total mobile penetration.

On the TV side, the industry has done a great job on many fronts. Still, we have to realize that we are competing with global companies with great resources and scale, and the benchmarks too are global. Whether it is story telling or quality of production or marketing or brand strategy, benchmarks are global. So, we the content industry need to step up our game.

The competition for Star will not be only from similarly placed media companies in India but will come from technology and other global companies; from the likes of Amazon, Alibaba, Google and Facebook. Are we ready for that as an industry? Individual companies may be ready for such competition, but I am not sure if we are ready as the content industry.

Part of the problem is because the monetization models haven’t evolved much. We still have regulatory issues, which are challenges, though I don’t want to go into too many details on that aspect.

Still, the entire TV distribution industry, according to me, has done an amazing job of creating 180+ million connected homes. Now that segment has to make sure each one of those homes is going up the value chain rather than trying to offer them discounts, etc. The stakeholders are competing only on the price front. If you are competing only on the price point, then you are compromising on the consumer experience and soon the consumer will start questioning whether it is worth having a cheap service, minus the experience. So, there is this whole challenge of getting the consumer up the value chain.

Where do you see Star India placed in the scenario that you have painted where both challenges and the opportunities abound?

There are things that an individual or a company can do with its own enterprise. Then there are things that all of us can do as an industry. I believe that if the whole industry is not progressing, individual companies can only progress so much. In that context, at Star India, we have done a good job and I am satisfied. Can we do more? Of course we can always do better. But we have managed to create a fairly deep and diverse entertainment platform on television and have leadership in a large number of entertainment markets.

To give you an example of the enterprise we have shown, take sports for instance. Five years ago we got into sports (management and broadcasting) and have created, perhaps, some of the most exciting franchises anywhere in the world. We have not limited ourselves to the sport that guarantees success (cricket), but have gone and experimented too. We have put our faith behind new initiatives in sports whether they are kabaddi or badminton or hockey or football. Our mission is to try turning India from a one-sport nation to a multi-sport one, while maintaining the pre-eminence of cricket. Some progress in that direction has been made and it’s satisfying.

Can Star make it a mission to get India the Olympic gold considering its continued investments in sports?

Star is a media and entertainment company and I would not want to have the arrogance to say we can make India win an Olympic gold medal. All I can say is that we’d be happy to partner with any agency or initiative that is designed to get India closer to the Olympic gold(s). Our job is to make sure that we showcase sports’ growth and breakout stories. I think we have done that job very well. I would like to believe that with Star Sports we are able to showcase the new (sporting) heroes far more prominently today than what we could have done few years back. If national team members of various sports, who were relatively unknown, now are recognized by ordinary citizens, I think we have done our job --- in fact we are doing just that.

That being said, I would like to add that private investment in sports ought to be welcome as it is this investment that helps sporting organizations plough funds into infrastructure, training and facilities, which in turn contribute to sporting success.

What are the changes on the content distribution front that you have seen and what are the continuing challenges for the industry, considering Star has had limited exposure to the distribution business?

If you look at how much we have moved in the last 10 years, it’s an impressive story.  The problem is that the process of digitization, which started essentially with DTH, and then picked up steam in 2011-2012 hasn’t delivered the full value.

Digitization still remains an unfinished agenda though it was meant to have been over quite some time back. It was supposed to have meant that people had access to better content at competitive prices and for good content to get easier distribution avenues. That hasn’t happened. The idea of digitization was also to allow content creators like us to offer integrated services to the consumers. That too hasn’t happened and the story has really not moved. Broadband access may have improved dramatically, but the participation of cable and DTH sector in that is miniscule.

public://Uday Image--1_1.JPGDigitisation still remains an unfinished agenda. People should have access to better content at competitive prices, and for good content to get easier distribution avenues

To put it bluntly, a bunch of people, who have got used to the idea of benefitting from an economy of shortages or scarcity, continue to create scarcities or continue to create conditions of scarcities (of content) and benefit. Fundamentally, it hurts the society and the industry. That is the disappointing side of the distribution business.

Star could have continued contributing by remaining a stakeholder in the distribution business. Comment.

While we were a minority shareholder (in Hathway) our ability to influence the business was limited. That is why we decided to get out because we were not shaping the (distribution or the company) agenda. We do have a minority investment in Tata Sky, but, again, our ability to set the agenda of that company is limited.

Will Star review its distribution business exit or its paring down, now that the government has liberalized investment norms for the DTH and cable sectors?

Government has allowed (increased FDI in DTH and cable companies) only at a headline level. The problem is that we were restricted even before the FDI investment limits went to 100 per cent. I think the Prime Minister has eased the investment norms facilitating more FDI in this sector, but we are hampered by other regulations. Cross media restrictions, which in any case is a discriminatory piece of regulation, has only blocked a company like Star from investing in the distribution sector more aggressively. This restriction is applicable only to DTH/HITS ventures but not to cable or IPTV, which in itself appears to be an arbitrary measure. And, we don’t want to skirt around regulations to create business entities to be in a business. We don’t want to invest and create a value when our say in a company remains locked. In that sense, our ability to invest more in Tata Sky is still restricted.

Is the business model in India changing for content aggregators and owners like Star? Has it now boiled down to free-to-air (FTA) vs. pay TV?

I am glad you asked this question. It is amazing how in this country we indulge in polarized arguments where none needs to exist.  Where does the question on pay TV versus FTA arise? Why should it exist at all? In most other countries, there is a place for FTA and pay TV businesses. The problem starts arising when they start competing with each other and that does not need to happen. In this country, a major part of the broadcasting business that developed in the last 20 years was primarily done by pay TV broadcasters. As access to FTA broadcasting, which is mostly terrestrial, was not open to private broadcasters it remained in the hands of the public broadcaster. Until Doordarshan FreeDish came along.

Now technology has opened up an opportunity creating a space for FTA and pay TV broadcasting.  I personally believe that the two should and could co-exist in this country --- pay TV for those who want to pay and have access to a much diverse and richer range of content and FTA platform for those who don’t want to pay as much for all of it but still want to get some basic content.

Does it happen vice versa too when pay TV content or channel is brought onto a free platform just to botch up the competitor’s business plans?

I think that should not happen. My public position has been that we should not take pay TV content onto a free platform (like DD FreeDish) because it not only undermines a pay TV consumer, but also a pay TV platform. In my opinion that is a wrong strategy. I personally started a dialogue between platforms and broadcasters to stop such a practice but it has not been too fruitful. We launched Star Bharat on the FreeDish platform, but it has fresh content.

Q: Will Star Bharat continue to remain a pay channel also as per media reports?

Don’t trust everything that you read in the media. However, there is nothing that prohibits a channel being available on DD FreeDish and on pay TV platforms. A whole bunch of channels in the past have done this; almost the entire language news category is on pay TV and FreeDish platforms at the same time. A whole bunch of entertainment channels too have followed that practice. So, what you hear about Star Bharat is simply mischievous.

Q: Please clarify whether for Star Bharat a consumer will have to pay if available on DTH or cable platforms?

Yes, a consumer of a DTH service or a cable platform will continue to pay for Star Bharat just as he did for Life OK for the time being. We sought permission from the government saying the channel will be rebranded as Star Bharat and would be offered on DD FreeDish as well. So, the pricing issue remains where it is.  Some people have chosen to find a problem with Star Bharat, while being totally comfortable with their own friendly channels. We are the only ones to have fresh original content for a channel on FreeDish like Star Bharat. Quality of production is high on Star Bharat as we are spending the same amount of money per hour or per half hour that we would have spent on Star Plus, which is a premium channel.

Q: James Murdoch said in an investor call that Star India is on course for $ 500 million EBIDTA for year 2018 and that cricket bids would have to be disciplined. Do you agree?

(Smiles) If my bosses have said that we are on course, then I would have to follow the directions. However, those statements were made in a responsible manner as we do have a plan and are working towards the goal. If the Indian economy remains on course, we are on course for all that.

As far as disciplined bids (for cricket rights) are concerned, of course it was a disciplined bid for IPL. Everybody has seen how close it was where the margin of victory was just three per cent. So, what more can I say in defense? Six years ago when we signed up for BCCI rights (media rights to Indian cricket), we paid Rs. 430 million (per match). At that time critics said Star had probably paid too much. It turns out now that we didn’t and that worked out really well for us. Today that (figure) has become the new normal. Now people are saying we are paying too much for IPL (US $ 2.55 billion for a five-year global media rights) only because 10 years ago it went at a much lower price. But then ten years ago the world was different, India was different and IPL was an untested product.

Q: Would you agree with’s analysis that Star actually got a good bargain for the $ 2.55 billion it bid for IPL rights?

I don’t understand why people are so excited about it. Hardly ever a sports media rights been awarded at such a close margin. Why are people asking ‘why has Star paid so much’? Clearly there were a whole bunch of people who were willing to pay and it was evident in the bidding numbers.

public://Uday Image--2_2.JPGEach media company has its strengths. I respect Zee enormously

As an aside, my personal view is that BCCI (Indian cricket board) lost a lot of value because of the duration of the contract. If it had been for 10 years, the value would have gone up dramatically. And, I am not just saying so because of the length (of the contract). Had it been for a longer period, per year value too would have increased tremendously ---shorter the period, lesser is the flexibility. 

Q: What are your plans to monetize the IPL property?

These are still early days, so you have to give us time to think through our strategies, which will unfold in due course. But I certainly won’t share with the media what I am trying to do.

Whether we have bid high or not will be judged by the fans of cricket. All I know is that IPL’s a very powerful tournament and cricket runs really deep in everybody’s bones in this country. To be successful, you just need to work on intensifying and heightening the experience of cricket further.

I believe that power of sports is such that you don’t need to give it steroids. You just need to be true to the spirit of the game and make sure that the experience for the fans is evolving continuously.  That is where our strength comes in and I would like to believe that as Star is the company that successfully created a few sports franchises that didn’t exist in the public domain earlier. We should be able to do that with IPL too. With cricket it’s not a one shot affair, it’s a process where you need to continuously evolve and we will work on that.

Q: Will you continue to work on Pro Kabaddi League too and bring it up to the IPL level?

We have brought PKL already in the limelight. But to be honest, though PKL still has some distance to travel to reach the levels of IPL, its growth has been phenomenal. When we were looking for franchisees for the inaugural edition, it took Anand Mahindra’s personal charm to get people in. This time round, when we added four new teams, there was a problem of plenty --- a large number of top corporate houses and individuals were extremely keen to get associated with PKL. So, clearly people believe in what we are trying to do. Look at the Indian Super League (soccer) story, which is in partnership with Reliance Industries. Except a few loyal pockets in the country, football nowhere figured in the country’s psyche or much in public debates. However, we have managed to turn the passion for football into a serious commitment for fans all over the country.

Q) Is that why you are picking up another indigenous game kho-kho to try its rediscovery?

Are we? We haven’t taken a decision on that sport yet. 

Q) Which media company is the closest competitor of Star whom you respect?

Each media company has its strengths. I respect Zee enormously.  I think it is very strong on discipline and doesn’t get distracted by what others are doing. It works hard to execute a plan it has. Similarly, other companies have their own strengths.

This is a business where competition is very dynamic and the power lies in the hands of the consumer. One half hour gone wrong can swing things away from you. As we have such a diverse portfolio, it is not about one competitor. Even if we are the leaders in one segment, in some other part of the business we are facing heat. But the entire business, hopefully, will not face heat from any one competitor.

Q: So Star is in a dominant position.

I don’t like the `dominant’ word. Especially because I feel this whole idea of dominance in a business --- especially a media business --- is a spurious claim. Either it comes from a complete lack of understanding of the business or it’s a mischievous allegation. Simply because there is no one product called Star India. For viewers and advertisers, it is a combination of multiple TV channels and each of those channels consist of large number of shows. You may have a show at 8 pm that is chart-busting and then at 8.30 pm you may have a show that nobody is watching, which usually is the case. A show that was doing really well three months ago can go into a total free fall if one artist is not there or there’s twist in the story-line.

Take sports, for example, again. You go and get rights of a property for a number of years and after that it goes to the public when anybody else can also bid for the rights and participate. On the digital front, the competition is even crazier. So this argument of anybody building dominance, not only Star, is totally mischievous and spurious.

Q: Let us rephrase the question. Isn’t it a great feeling to continue being a leader?

In some parts of the business, we continue to stay ahead and that’s because we work harder. We spend more money on our content and are less focused on profits. We reinvest (in the business) more than probably anybody else in this sector in the country. Media and critics have written for the last five years or so that Star was not making profits in sports after investing heavily in sports content and now people are saying otherwise. We have now started investing in Hotstar, a digital platform. I think the one big difference between us and everybody else, and which gives us leadership and a little more of steadiness, is that we are always trying out new things.

We have tried to explore new horizons and boundaries. Not all such initiatives have been successful, though. I would like to believe that we have pushed the creative envelope in a responsible way far more than what has been done in the past. Are we trying to future-proof ourselves, as you ask? I wish it could have been possible. But, yes, we are investing in the future.

Q: Critics and some industry players feel that Star India has become so big that it can challenge the sector regulator too. Comment.

First, we have not taken on any regulator. We have had some fundamental and limited issues, which became sharper in the new tariff order (of TRAI, the broadcast regulator). Our understanding of the TRAI Act says that the regulator has jurisdiction over distribution/transmission of content, but not the content itself, which in our case can be determined only under the ambit of the copyright law of the country. The law of the land gives every aggrieved person the freedom to go to a court for adjudication. And, that’s what we have done. There is nothing like challenging the jurisdiction of the TRAI.

Q: Is the India market over regulated compared to some other markets in Asia or the west?

I would not make such a blanket statement. There are parts of the market that are over regulated and there are parts which are not. All I would like to humbly submit is that there are some parts in the existing regulations --- especially those dealing in relationships between distributors and content owners --- that are debatable. If the proposed regulations were to come into effect today as they are, any new entrant to the Indian broadcast industry would find it a difficult and expensive proposition.

Q: What more would you like the government and regulator to do to be a bigger facilitator of doing business apart from what they have already done?

We don’t have to create a shoe to fit every foot as there are different feet sizes. Similarly, there are different needs for different set of people in terms of content. However, let me make it clear that I am not making a case for smut because Star doesn’t do sleazy content.

TV is a family medium and we should be mindful of that; Star certainly is. There may be families where kids also watch television along with elders, but there are homes where there are no kids. Hence, the need (for content) of the latter family might be different and mature. So, content creators should be allowed to factor in all such diversities and create a spectrum of content rather than just uniform content in a one shoe-fits- all model. TV is an instrument of change and also a huge driver of employment and wealth creation.

While agreeing there are areas where some restrictions are needed, I would say policy-makers should allow the whole eco-system to come together and be more flexible. Take, for example, the number of people who are dependent, formally or informally, on the TV industry as a category. That number would be around five million if the whole value chain is taken into consideration. I feel the number can increase manifold.

Q: How do you see the Hotstar growth story now that it has been launched in the US and Canada?

I find that space very exciting. It’s a market with an affluent South Asian diaspora with huge appetite for Indian content whether sports or drama or movies. They pay high subscription money presently to watch Indian content on American platforms as the structure for getting access to South Asian content is complicated and expensive. We think with Hotstar we can make a difference by offering people living abroad high quality content and world class experience at prices far more competitive than what they are paying now.

Q: Does Star have a time frame, say 12 months, to rollout Hotstar worldwide?

I don’t have a hard and fast deadline. For me it is more important to first build a business, stabilize it and then scale it up. We are not playing a valuation or a stock market game. I would like to build things on a solid foundation. So, to answer your question, I think it is clearly not going to happen in one year’s time.

Q: How closely is IPL’s monetization linked with Hotstar?

We have got the global rights for IPL and we will explore internally what trade-offs we can do. We would have to examine whether we can get better business value by offering it (IPL) ourselves or we should license it to other companies. The financial case will influence those decisions.

Q: Is Star still in the lookout for properties to acquire to fill gaps?

We are not a big M&A company. In my 10 years at Star India, we have acquired MAA TV and before that Asianet (both companies located in South India).  In this company, my bosses, my colleagues and I like to build things ourselves as that way we can shape the business the way we want to. Such initiatives are also more sustainable and self-sufficient and, remember, we have an exceptionally high quality plan execution team.

However, I would admit there are always gaps, but you need not fill all of them. Also, there are not many quality assets available in the media space presently.

Q: What about the regional space? No opportunities there?

There would always be opportunities, but I don’t think we are considering any (M&A) in the regional language side in the foreseeable future and going deeper in the regional markets. We already have much on the plate.

Q: Would Star like to review an earlier decision and return to news business in India?

There is no plan to get back into the (television) news business. Moreover, with my limited understanding, news on television globally faces challenges these days as second on second updates are available on one’s hand-held devices. So, what new proposition can one create for people to come back night after night, 365 days on television, to spend some time watching you? Those who had created a brand on news television and are carrying on can continue to benefit from a legacy habit. But creating new news brands on television is lot more difficult today than in the past. People also have access to news on digital platforms as there is so much news available in one form or the other, including professionally produced and user generated. So, at the moment there are no plans to revisit our decision to exit news business in India.

Q: Hotstar seems to have a special affinity for Republic TV and is it filling Star’s news need?

(Smiles) In the same way Hotstar offers Sky News, Republic too is offered to consumers. If others are interested, we will give them a platform too. Don’t read too much into the agreement with Republic TV; it’s a simple distribution arrangement.

Q: Would you agree that because of the audience ratings game, entertainment is becoming news and news is becoming entertainment in India?

I would, rather, not get into that argument at all. However, since you have asked, I don’t think TRP(s) is a bad word. In the business that we are in, which is called mass media, if you take out the mass there is no business left. If it is mass media, measurement of the masses comes from ratings. The question is: what all would you do to get ratings? The answer lies in each individual and each company’s value systems. At Star, we have decided that we would do certain things and we would never do certain other things to get ratings. Some other people have defined that differently.

Q: You have said in the past media and entertainment industry is not throwing up young talents because of inadequate human resources R&D. Do you still believe so and what has Star done to counter the inadequacy?

The industry was not geared for creating so much of output as it is today between films and TV. Look at these small shops that have mushroomed all over.  We have been unable to expand the pipeline of training creative talent whether it is at the MCRC or the FTII, for example. In the meantime, requirement has grown manifold.

I, generally, believe that our ability to compete with companies that are modern, resourceful and global will depend on the (human) resources and talent we create in the country. In a country where formal institutions are not geared to identify and shape new talent, the industry has to do it. I have been an advocate of that for a long time. Though we need to do this collectively as an industry, a beginning has been made by Star. We have created a big academy where we have got a respected name from Hollywood to be based in India to teach.

Q: What are your thoughts on Made in India content for the world market?

We are doing some things on that front by creating products that we can take outside India. We have succeeded in that endeavour with few Hindi films like `Neerja’ and ‘Dhoni’.  Hopefully, we will be able to open up that market more. At some stage, hopefully, some of the sports leagues that we have created, especially kabaddi, will be of interest to people outside India.


Technology has created space for FTA and pay TV. The two could co-exist -- pay TV for those who want diverse and richer content, FTA for those who want basic content

However, I don’t see Indian drama in its current form travelling outside India for a long time. Such shows are culturally too specific and too rooted in our family culture. Moreover, our business model is different that works the best when we offer large number of episodes. When you do that, given the monetization model, limited revenue comes from the investments made in a show with huge number of episodes. Until a totally distribution driven business model for premium content comes along, I think Indian entertainment content would not be competing in the global market.

Q: What’s your perception on linear TV continuing as a medium in India?

In this country TV will continue for a long time. I am not one of those who believe that linear TV would disappear in five years time and people would go completely digital. First, in a country where the family values are still strong, TV continues to act as glue for the family to get together. I don’t think, and hope, it would change very soon. Second, TV’s biggest comparative advantage comes from it being very affordable. Despite prices of broadband having dropped, if you take into account the cost of data and content, a digital platform is still way more expensive than TV. For anything between Rs 150-Rs 400, people can get more content than they can ever watch on TV.

Then there is a long tail of households that is still waiting to get into the television world. The question is: can we create innovative price models for different user groups so it’s a win-win for the creative people and the business too? 

It is also a mistake to think that television is only competing with television. No. TV also competes with digital platforms and people only have finite time to spend watching shows. Again, are we innovating enough? I think we are not innovating enough for TV to be at the cutting edge of competition with digital.

Q: In terms of management of Star’s Indian operations some structural changes happened two years ago. Are some more in the offing?

We created a new structure, as you have said, where we pushed decision making further down. I think Star India is, probably, the most decentralized media company in this country. We have different CEOs for sports, entertainment, digital and South Indian markets, and a head for international business. Not only it is fairly deep, but also diverse and aimed towards creating more entrepreneurship.

Q: Having begun your career as a print media journalist, you have gone on to head Star India, an entertainment company. What would be the achievements over the last 10 years for the company, people and you?

We have created a healthy and robust company with a bench of high quality talents across all segments of our business. Not only at Star we have encouraged innovation and entrepreneurship, but have created serious consensus on a whole bunch of issues in the industry ranging from content creation to brands. Personally, I take a lot of satisfaction in driving initiatives like self-regulation in content, etc. Above all, it is a matter of huge satisfaction that we have taken initiatives that have gone beyond the remit of a traditional media company like Star --- like create and build sports leagues.

I keep talking about it (various sports leagues) only because it’s only a matter of time before other companies will also get into it and then the transformation would really impact the country. I would like to see the same transformation in India that has been seen in places like parts of Latin America, Africa and Europe where the power of sports has acted as a social glue to create opportunities for people who would otherwise be totally on the margins of society. Being able to be part of such a transformation has been hugely motivating for me all these years.

Q: Where do you see yourself five years from now?

I am typically the kind of person who doesn’t forget his background and my base has been in news where I was extremely focused on tonight’s headlines as tomorrow is another day. So, I am very focused on clarity for today without worrying about tomorrow. I believe that one thing leads to another. Honestly, I have never planned my life, but it has been a great ride till now.


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