WarnerMedia has nabbed top Disney talent, appointing Amit Malhotra as managing director for HBO Max in Southeast Asia and India as it readies for the launch of HBO Max in the market.
Malhotra (pictured), who was instrumental to the launch of Disney+ in Southeast Asia, will report to Johannes Larcher, head of HBO Max International. He will be responsible for the rollout and management of WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer platform in Southeast Asia, and will immediately assume responsibility for the management of HBO GO, WarnerMedia’s existing OTT streaming service available in eight territories across Southeast Asia.
In the future, he will spearhead the introduction of HBO Max in these territories and will lead WarnerMedia’s exploration of future opportunities to launch the streaming platform in additional markets, as well as a potential future launch in India.
Malhotra most recently served as regional lead for Disney+ in Southeast Asia, where he was responsible for overseeing the launch and operations of Disney’s streaming services in the region, including Disney+, Disney+ Hotstar and Hotstar. He also led the content sales and distribution division as part of The Walt Disney Company’s direct-to-consumer & International (DTCI) business in South APAC and Middle East, pivoting Disney’s linear business in the region to streaming by working closely with local telcos, creating localised payment strategies and developing deep content studio relationships throughout Southeast Asia.
Larcher said, “With our upcoming launch across Latin America on 29 June and our plans for Europe on the horizon, we turn our sights toward Asia, where we have an incredible opportunity to bring HBO Max to millions of new fans who are just as excited about streaming as our audiences in the US. Malhotra’s experience launching streaming services in both mature and emerging markets across Southeast Asia and the surrounding region make him the ideal leader to plan and oversee the rollout of HBO Max and its expanded content offering and platform experience.”
David Simonsen, who has played an important role in the growth of HBO GO in Southeast Asia to date, will continue to make a significant contribution to WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer efforts in the region, and will work closely with Malhotra as part of his executive leadership team.
HBO Max has seen significant success since launching in May of last year, adding 11.1M HBO/HBO Max subscribers in the U.S. as of the end of Q1 2021. The platform will roll out in 39 territories across Latin America and the Caribbean on June 29, and HBO’s existing OTT services in Europe are scheduled to be upgraded to HBO Max later this year. By the end of 2021, HBO Max is expected to be available in 61 global markets.
Under Malhotra’s leadership, WarnerMedia expects to launch HBO Max in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam in the future, including an expanded content offering for the entire family and a premium new platform that would be hosted on HBO Max’s tech stack. This is said to be able to provide a more stable and consistent streaming experience than HBO GO. Malhotra will also be responsible for exploring possible opportunities to launch HBO Max in new and fast-growing Asian streaming markets such as India.
Malhotra said, “I am delighted to be part of the incredible team at WarnerMedia in Asia as we look at bringing HBO Max to this region. WarnerMedia’s brands including DC Universe, HBO and Cartoon Network are extremely popular with passionate fans and audiences across this region. With a focus on consumers our goal will be to bring all of these brands and content together in an exciting new world class streaming experience as we move into the future with HBO Max.”
In a LinkedIn post, Malhotra also said it wasn’t an easy decision to leave the company after 17 years. “I’ve have been fortunate to work with some of the most talented people in the world and create friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime. I will miss my team and their passion and commitment which was second to none.”
He also expressed his gratitude for having the chance to work on the roadmap of Disney+ Hostar and D+ in Southeast Asia. “I’ve met so many personal goals I set out for myself, and, as a company, we’ve achieved far more than I would have ever imagined. None of this would have been possible without the Company’s thoughtful risk-taking and strong focus in this region and value for our consumers,” he said on a LinkedIn post.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to The Walt Disney Company for a statement.
Meanwhile, in February this year, The Walt Disney Company announced a number of new appointments to its APAC leadership team, including Jessica Kam-Engle and David Shin. Kam-Engle was named head of content and development, APAC and will overseeing the development of world-class and locally relevant original content in APAC. Kam-Engle is an entertainment industry veteran who joins the company from HBO Asia/WarnerMedia, where she served as head of original production since 2017. Meanwhile, Shin took on a dual role inside the company as both general manager for The Walt Disney Company Taiwan/Hong Kong and Southeast Asia (excluding Indonesia), and head of media networks, APAC.
Most recently, the company made headlines for the launch of Disney+, its subscription content. According to a report on CNBC, the current Disney+ subscribers stands at 103.6 million, which is behind the estimates by analysts of 109 million.