Speaking at FICCI Frames 2013, Walt Disney Chairman Andy Bird raised the issue of policy uncertainty in India. “It is important for everyone involved to understand what the rules of the market are, but also important for the rules not to change. There is uncertainty.” Disney had acquired Ronnie Screwvala’s UTV last year, and perhaps the point being made about policy uncertainty was keeping in mind Vodafone’s challenges in India, wherein the country amended taxation laws retrospectively. “The more certainty that India can create with clear policies and decisions, the greater the investments it will attract in this industry. One day, I hope to be back in India in a room like this, and see a room full of competitors,” Bird said.
Bird explained how the company’s approach to the Indian market has changed: the approach earlier was to have a sales and marketing operations in India, but now, following the acquisition of UTV, the Walt Disney Company India is the Indian Walt Disney company – creating content that is relevant to consumers in India. “Disney has become India’s leading film studio and TV producer with the acquisition of UTV, and India’s leading broadcaster. We’re a leading player in games because of the acquisition of IndiaGames. With Ronnie’s leadership, our goal is to build 4 lines of business – TV, Film, Digital Media, and consumer products, with five products, including the newly acquired Star Wars.”
“The Walt Disney Company India will be different from any other Indian media company, with more depth, and connect with consumers,” Bird claimed. “We’ve built a creative prowess (in India) second only to that in the US, with producing films, games, styleguides for consumer products. We are building the Indian Walt Disney company. We are building talent, and looking to export this talent to markets outside of India. The Disney-UTV team is working with colleagues at Pixar, and Marvel. The interactive team is working with our Japanese team. Our TV team is reworking formats from around the world. We want be ready for the mobile broadband wave in India. We are building a content, creative brand.”
Bird said that as far as Disney is concerned, there is no such thing as an international market, but a diverse collection of local markets, which demand individual strategies, which explains their approach to India.