Disney hires Google veteran to lead streamer Disney+ Hotstar in India


Disney has raided Google for its new head of Indian streaming giant Disney+ Hotstar.

Sajith Sivanandan becomes EVP and head of Disney+ Hotstar, reporting into Rebecca Campbell, chairman of Disney’s international content and operations group, and K Madhavan, president of India’s Disney Star.

Sajith Sivanandan

Sivanandan’s remit includes oversight of all Disney+ Hotstar business in India, including direct responsibility for the streamer’s business priorities and growth.

He will also work closely with international and US-based Disney+ execs to fuel expansion. Sivanandan starts in October.

The exec started his career with Star TV in India in 1996, overseeing the North India market for Channel V, before joining Google, where he had been for more than 15 years.

His most recent role was MD and business head of the search giant’s Google Pay service.

Disney+ Hotstar is India’s largest streamer and has been behind a growing number of originals such as Aarya, Hundred and Out Of Love, which sit alongside swathes of library content.

However, it is facing an increasingly competitive market as Netflix and others ramp up efforts in the country.

The streamer will also be without Indian Premier League cricket rights in the coming months after losing out on an auction with Paramount-backed Voot, which is expected to affect subscriptions in the coming months, as detailed by TBI research powerhouse and TBI sibling, Omdia.

Campbell, who took up her expanded international role in January, said: “His 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.”

Madhavan added: “After witnessing rapid growth in recent years, the OTT market in India has entered a transformational phase which calls for an ingenious approach to the manner in which we innovate for growth.

“Sajith’s wealth of experience that he has gained over the years makes him the best person to lead Disney+ Hotstar on this journey.

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