The country’s leading television network, Star India is focusing on socially relevant programming and investing in sports content. Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India, talks about the strategy behind the programming, the journey of Star and Aamir Khan’s involvement with Satyamev Jayate.
Q: What has been the evolution of Star in India?
A: No matter what part of media you work in, if you are not using it to create a better society, then you are missing an opportunity – is something that I say and believe with conviction.
This thought has manifested in action during my association with Star India, driving the network in transforming it into a creative powerhouse and steering its evolution to a conglomerate that is today synonymous with shaping social mindsets and championing women’s rights/civil rights.
The network that initially made a mark with content such as KBC and engaged women with soaps, has since carved a niche by creating socially relevant content and mould positive thinking in keeping with its philosophy of `Nayi Soch’.
At Star India, we don’t measure ourselves with competition. We simply innovate and where necessary, compete with ourselves to set new benchmarks in content that differentiates us. That is why you see today a channel like Life OK and content such as Satyamev Jayate.
Q: What is the reach, market share and revenue of Star in India?
A: Star India broadcasts more than 30 channels in seven languages. We reach more than 650 million viewers every week across India and 100 other countries.
Star’s market share has grown to 24.8%, the single highest for any entity, in the calendar year 2013, from 14% five years ago, in a market of nearly 800 channels.
In terms of revenue, Star India has grown by 32% CAGR over the past five years to $1.02 billion for FY13.
Q: What is the Star strategy on socially relevant programming?
A: Socially relevant programmes on Star India are like walking with grasshoppers, viewers evolve with the programmes, realising their worth as change agents.
Star India is focused on using media as a force for social good and that is perhaps best embodied in shows such as Satyamev Jayate, which has provided a forum to the nation with the ability to bring about a positive change to the society. We have prioritised local over global, laid unmistakable emphasis on nationalist credentials and pushed a greater degree of credibility to the output.
That potential for change isn’t limited to content for general entertainment, as we’ve and are demonstrating with sports. Our investment in various properties is aimed at leveraging the potential of sports to counter negative stereotypes, be it social or those based on gender, and inspire a whole new generation to believe that sports can be an avenue to make change possible.
Q: What has been the thought process behind Aamir Khan’s show Satyamev Jayate?
A: After taking the helm in 2007, I had already set the ball rolling for content with focus on social progression. We had many shows like ‘Aap Ki Kacheri’, India’s first reality arbitration show, ‘Pratigya,’ ‘Saathiya’ and I can just keep on going. The gist is we had content that portrayed strong character and substance.
But we had to raise the bar. I was convinced of the unique characteristics of television and its power to act as an influencing agent and with this in mind met with Aamir about helming development of a programme that had a strong social message.
Q: What is the strategy for sports and investments lined up?
A: Star has steadfastly boosted its sports properties, investing in the best and biggest sporting events. Much to the cricket fan’s delight, our offering now encompasses from key local to international games, including the World Cup for the next eight years.
Keeping with our ambition of promoting non-cricket sports, we are investing in properties, including hockey, kabaddi, football and tennis. Our investment in these sports goes beyond marketing interests. The aim is to imbibe a multi-sport culture in a nation of billion plus people.