Keshet Asia, the Hong Kong-based subsidiary of Keshet International (KI), has expanded its footprint to Mumbai with two major hires. KI is Keshet Media Group's global distribution and production arm.
Arpit Agarwal will lead the India operations on the ground as Director, India and SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation), reporting to Gary Pudney, Head of Asia. Mihir Karlekar also comes on board as Senior Sales Manager, India and SAARC.
Together they will seek to increase the volume of KI’s scripted and non-scripted formats being adapted for Indian audiences and uncover local IP for international distribution. They will also co-develop with Indian creators and begin to lay the foundations for an eventual local production business.
The Indian operation has been established following the launch of two flagship KI properties in the country; the epic 110-episode adaptation of Prisoners of War (Bandi Yuddh Ke), which aired on Star Plus and was the no. 1 trending topic on Twitter during its premiere; and the country’s first ever live voting talent show Rising Star, which is airing on Viacom18’s Colors. With live voting powered by the Screenz Platform, the Color's app garnered 3.6 million downloads since launch, and is steadily rising as the format sets the bar for innovation in TV engagement.
Gary Pudney, Head of Keshet Asia, said, “India is a vibrant market in which we see huge potential. The success of Prisoners of War and Rising Star has demonstrated our catalogue’s ability to resonate with local viewers, but as well as selling more content into the region, we are equally keen to begin producing and acquiring intellectual properties (IPs). With Agarwal and Karlekar on board, we feel we have the right people in place to capitalise on our success and drive the business forward.”
Agarwal said, “Keshet International has made rapid inroads into the Indian market in the last year and I’m hugely excited at the prospect of further expanding its footprint in the SAARC region – home to over a billion eager TV viewers.”
With more than 20 years’ of experience, Agarwal joins Keshet Asia from Singaporean distribution and production company Bomanbridge Media where he was Director of Business Development and Sales across South Asia and licensed more than 450 hours of finished tape and formats in the region. Prior to Bomanbridge Media, Arpit was Business Head at general entertainment channel Sahara One where he commissioned two major prime-time drama series. Arpit also headed Operations at FremantleMedia India, and was an intrinsic part of the launch of The X Factor India, and the roll-out of Indian Idol V and India’s Got Talent III among others.
Karlekar joins from consumer electronics conglomerate LeEco where he was Senior Manager Content Business Development and Strategic Alliances, a role that saw him closing partnership deals with leading domestic and international OTT platforms. Prior to this, he was Commercial Manager, Acquisitions at Zee Entertainment where he managed all linear/non-linear content acquisition for three OTT platforms, FTA and Niche Channel clusters and format licensing for GECs, before stepping up to Head of Commercial at Zee TV’s Digital Convergence arm.