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India has the single biggest opportunity in the coming decade: James Murdoch

MUMBAI: Media scion James Murdoch,
who will be 21st Century Fox CEO next
month, is bullish on the future of his
company in India.
” We are a global business and have
always been so but I have to say we
think India is the single greatest
opportunity in the next five to 10
years. India is an emerging super
power—an extraordinary place to do
business,” he said at the ongoing
Cannes Lions Festival.
While acknowledging that the
country’s media landscape has had its
ups and downs, he noted the huge
appetite for media and entertainment
that is present in the country. He also
pointed out to the explosion of
growth of the internet.
Sports rights
Murdoch noted that there is a
breaking point in terms of the rising
costs of sports properties for TV
channels. However, this does not
apply to all properties. Referring to
the work being done in India regarding
cricket, soccer (Indian Super League)
and kabaddi (Pro Kabaddi League), he
said, “I think it is always hard to call
and end in sight. Some sports are just
incredibly valuable and you’ll see
continued escalation but there are
breaking points. It depends on the
business you can make out of it.
“We are a huge investor in sports, we
love the sport business. But at the
same time we try not to rely on one
or other sport in a given market. We
like to see multi-sport markets where
you can deliver a big breadth of
content to customers so you can
balance and make choices.”
While some sports will get price
inflation, it does not mean that ‘any
price is the right price’.
“I think the demand for things that
are fundamentally distinctive,
engaging and differentiated is very
very high. As we see a proliferation of
competition and innovation
downstream, in terms of people trying
to provide content to customers,
sport is going to continue to be a real
driver of that. It doesn’t mean that
any price is the right price.”
Regarding the Hotstar app, he said,
“It’s a whole new ad platform. We are
working with a whole lot of partners
to monetise it in a new way.”
The ad scene
As far as the future of advertising is
concerned, he expects ads to become
less intrusive. Murdoch noted that as
new models emerge, advertising would
become less intrusive and the
traditional number of ad spots would
likely fall while brands might sponsor
periods of free-streaming access.
“Certainly, in entertainment formats,
we will see less interruptive formats;
we have to replace that with new,
engaging formats. I really believe a
streaming environment for
entertainment content is better for
customers, media and advertisers.”
He noted that the pay TV industry had
done little innovating and that in the
streaming world, one is not competing
against that night’s shows, but
everything that has ever been made.
In five years, consumers would not
differentiate between traditional
broadcast, cable TV and streaming
video, since everything will be
delivered via IP connections.
Giving his views on ad-free platforms,
he said, “I just wouldn’t give up on
ad-free networks. I don’t think we do
ad-supported platforms as well as we
can. New products will change how we
engage with brands. People would
watch less interruptive advertising,
not necessarily less advertising.”
On father Rupert and brother Lachlan
James said that he did not disagree
much with his father Rupert Murdoch
on the future of 21st Century Fox.
“Not much. His vision from when we
first acquired 20th Century Fox, the
film studio, in the ’80s was clear.
Incredible, really incredibly
differentiated content. That the
creative business was something that
was just going to grow in value and
going to find multiple ways to reach
customers and find new ways to tell
“That was very much his vision and
it’s very much his vision now. I think
it’s been borne out but I think it is
going to continue as the pace of
innovation accelerates. I’d say there
is really not much. It’s been a
consistent vision. Really not much.”
Commenting on his relationship with
his brother Lachlan, the company’s
co-executive chairperson from next
month, James said, “It’s very much a
partnership. We see very eye to eye
on the business. It is really a
question of making sure we keep our
eyes on the ball, on the goal, and
understand the opportunities in front
of us. I think we are in reasonably
good shape. The family is obviously a
big shareholder in the business, so we
are all really invested in each other’s
Asked if Fox News’ views matched his
own, James said, “I don’t let my
politics get involved in my business.”
Asked whether he would one day like
his own children to run the family
business, James laughed and said, “My
kids are really little right now. I’d
just like them to pass the fifth

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