Star India has hired Varun Narang, a former executive of US online video service Hulu, to head the product and technology division of its streaming platform Hotstar in a bid to scale up operations.
Narang joined Hotstar last week and is now operating from Star India’s Mumbai office,
. He will lead the team to build mobile solutions for the app and help innovate content discovery, quality of video playback and build native advertising platforms for the app.
Star India is building its product and technology team around Narang and investing heavily in it.
Narang has over 20 years of experience in product design and technology, including stints at Amazon and Xerox.
The appointment comes at a time when the online video streaming service is slowly warming up in India. Last week, film and entertainment company Eros International announced plans to invest $25 million to develop original content for its video streaming service ErosNow.
The move to hire Narang also comes at a time when India’s most valuable e-commerce companies such as Flipkart, Snapdeal and Ola are paying top salaries to recruit product experts from the US as they try to catch up with international rivals, including Amazon and Uber, in building quality products and strong technology infrastructure.
Hotstar’s digital head Ajit Mohan confirmed Narang’s appointment.
“We are scaling up (Hotstar) dramatically. After its successful launch we are now trying to find mobile solutions across devices, monetisation models, ways to improve quality and discovery of content among others,” Mohan
“Varun’s expertise is in terms of how to create an outstanding content experience in online video. Given his background, he will drive serious innovation on all mobile- based solutions.”
Mobile app Hotstar was launched on February 1. With 25 million downloads so far, it has over 100 advertisers on the platform. Hotstar offers more than 35,000 hours of content in seven different languages, promising viewers an array of movies, TV shows and live sports (cricket, football, tennis and kabaddi). Hotstar also holds the highly lucrative streaming rights for the Indian Premier League.
Viewers can download the Hotstar app, available across all platforms including Android and iOS, or access the content from the Hotstar website free of cost.
With over 200 million views, Hotstar notched up a threefold jump in viewership for the eighth edition of the Indian Premier League from 61 million views in the previous season. The mobile streaming app also drew 340 million views for all 49 matches of the ICC Cricket World Cup, as the 50-over tournament’s 2015 edition became the largest sporting event on digital media.