August 23, 2022
Disney has named former Google executive Sajith Sivanandan EVP and head of Disney+ Hotstar, the media company’s key streaming platform in India.
Sivanandan, who begins his new job in October, will be tasked with overseeing Disney+ Hotstar’s overall business operations in India with direct responsibility for defining the streaming service’s strategic business priorities and charting its product roadmap. He will also work closely with local leadership team in international markets as well as with the Disney+ team in the U.S.
“[Sajith’s] deep experience in the region, combined with his strong leadership and business management skills will greatly benefit Disney+ Hotstar as the platform embarks on its next phase of growth,” Rebecca Campbell, chairman of Disney’s international content and operations group, to whom Sivanandan reports, said in a statement.
Sivanandan, who was managing director and business head of Google Pay and Google’s Next Billion User Initiatives for Asia Pacific, has his work cut out for him.
Disney+ Hotstar represented 38% of Disney’s branded subscription streaming video platform’s subscriber base at the end of the most-recent fiscal quarter with 58.4 million subscribers. Without Hotstar, which Disney acquired through its acquisition of 21st Century Fox in 2019, Disney+ would have slightly more than 93 million subs worldwide — on par with HBO/HBO Max/Discovery+ (92.1 million).
Yet, rival Paramount Global just acquired away from Hotstar the streaming rights to Indian Premier League cricket — a heretofore sub driver for Disney+. Without those rights, Disney+ Hotstar could see increased subscriber churn going forward.
Sivanandan doesn’t seem concerned.
“Disney and Star are brands with an incredibly rich history of innovation, user focus and storytelling, and Disney+ Hotstar brings those attributes together flawlessly,” he said. “The opportunity to come back home to where I started my career and to work alongside a very talented team to serve Disney+ Hotstar users in India and emerging countries is both a privilege and an honor.”