Star adds digital glitz with Screen buy-out

DetailsRebecca Hawkes | 10 March 2015

Star India has acquired the 51-year-old weekly entertainment broadsheet Screen, along with its awards ceremony, to add further content to its digital and television presence.

The deal with publisher Indian Express Group brings what the 21st Century Fox-owned company calls a "definitive multimedia film and entertainment franchise" to Star India, with local rumours circulating that the publication may now be integrated with Star's new over-the-top (OTT) video platform. Screen has a weekly circulation of around 12,000.

In addition, the broadcast of the annual Screen Awards provides an estimated INR300 million (US$4.79 million) through sponsorship. This year Star's Life OK is to air the 21-year-old ceremony, although last year it was broadcast by rival Viacom18 channel Colors.

"Screen is a strong and reputable franchise and gives us access to the entertainment editorial suite and the tinsel world, where news that shapes trends is made by film stars, directors and producers. The acquisition of Screen will allow us to strengthen and expand the content brand online while taking the awards platform to the next level," said Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India.

"There are strong synergies and the combination of the quality content and awards franchise with Star's presence across television and digital platforms is strategic and scalable," he added.

Priyanka Sinha Jha will continue to lead the Screen editorial team following the transaction the value of which has not been disclosed but is being put at somewhere in the region of INR300 million ($4.79 million) to INR500 million ($7.99 million).

Indian Express CEO George Varghese said: "Screen is one of our leading properties on the entertainment side of the business. Our decision was driven by our belief in Star's focus to grow this business, which we believe would translate into adding value for all stakeholders including employees."