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Disney exec resurfaces at HBO Max

WarnerMedia has appointed former senior Disney+ exec Amit Malhotra as managing director for its streaming service HBO Max in South-East Asia and India.

Amit Malhotra

Malhotra will join the company later this month in the role, reporting to Johannes Larcher, head of HBO Max internationally.

Malhotra, who left The Walt Disney Company after 17 years last month, will be responsible for the roll-out and management of WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer platform in South-East Asia.

He will immediately assume responsibility for the management of HBO Go, WarnerMedia’s existing OTT streaming service that is available in eight territories across South-East Asia: Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

In the future, Malhotra 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, including a potential launch in India.

David Simonsen, who WarnerMedia said has played an important role in the growth of HBO Go in South-East Asia to date, will continue to work on the media giant’s direct-to-consumer efforts in the region, and will work with Malhotra as part of his executive leadership team.

The HBO Max team in South-East Asia will build on the partnership with Clement Schwebig, MD of India, South-East Asia, and Korea for WarnerMedia.

Members of his team include head of content Magdalene Ew and head of distribution Yasmin Zahid, as well as Leslie Lee, head of kids in Asia Pacific.

Malhotra most recently served as regional lead for Disney+ in South-East 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 and international business in South Asia Pacific and the Middle East, which saw it pivot away from linear TV towards streaming. This move is now being replicated around the world.

HBO Max 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.

Larcher said: “With our upcoming launch across Latin America on June 29 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.

“Amit’s experience launching streaming services in both mature and emerging markets across South-East Asia and the surrounding region make him the ideal leader to plan and oversee the roll-out of HBO Max and its expanded content offering and platform experience.”

Malhotra added: “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.”

HBO Max’s expansion comes as WarnerMedia is about to embark on a multi-billion-dollar mega-merger with US-based factual giant Discovery in a move that will see the two become known as Warner Bros Discovery.

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