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Changing the narrative – From the fate of broadcast TV to the emergence of a co-existential dawn with digital

Megha Tata, Managing Director, Discovery Inc

Ever since the birth of TV broadcasting, the industry has survived and thrived through major series of transformations. What we are witnessing today is yet another transition in the face of digital revolution where every medium is finding its natural place in the changing landscape. Some of these evolutionary changes may, at first, seem like threats but are opportunities in the hands of incumbents and in fact, open up wider possibilities. The rise of OTT is giving us a compelling opportunity to reach more audiences aligned to their changing consumption patterns , and is evolving businesses into models that are built for long-term growth. It is not an EITHER/OR situation but an “AND” scenario where both the mediums co-exist as each offers a distinct value to the ecosystem.

Last year, TV did suffer from the impact of the pandemic temporarily in terms of ad-revenues, but is quickly gaining momentum in the new -normal. The viewership has grown 9% percent in 2020 over 2019, and the ubiquitous medium continues to command strong patronage in the country. But one cannot ignore the way people are now consuming content on more devices in more ways than ever before. As content providers, it only works to our advantage to make our programming available across mediums, so consumers can enjoy their choice of entertainment whenever and wherever they want. Therefore, in the midst of these structural shifts, our efforts should be aimed at building a television organization that can operate in hybrid environments with a customer-first mind-set.

With a legacy of over 26 years in the country, Discovery Network has become an unparalleled leader in real-life entertainment space with content that truly drives passion among our audiences. Two years ago, we knew the time was right to launch our own streaming service. Today, discovery+ enjoys a distinct place in the market away from the fictional wars of OTT players as we continue to offer differentiated programming that inspires, informs, and entertains. Backed by our treasure trove of infotainment content, discovery+ has not only created an appealing destination for consumers to discover interesting factual entertainment everyday but has also added an impetus to our vision to power people’s passion in every screen. And, we must remember that people ultimately consume content irrespective of the medium. We are continuously bolstering our content line-up through owning our own original IP like Mission Frontline, Into The Wild, Secrets of Sinuali, Star as Food, as well as partnering with the best global studios & and production houses to bring world-class content at our viewers’ fingertips. Now, 40% percent of subscribers can easily be attributed to discovery+ India original programming, and the number is only multiplying as we continue to launch exciting new original and global titles in the coming months.

Kids is also among the most engaged genres on our streaming service. Average time spent per viewer on kids programming is among the highest across all genres, and enjoys double the viewer visits compared to regular SWOD users. Popular animated franchises for kids, such as ‘Little Singham’ and ‘Kisna’ have now become key engagement drivers for us. We also have introduced a quiz section covering multiple subjects to engage with our audience and make Discovery Plus a holistic experience. Our global library of 300,000 hours of content covering 40+ genres, the strength of 14 TV channels with over 225 million consumers every month, performance marketing and accessibility of content in 8 languages has already given discovery+ a strong head-start unlike any other stand-alone OTT player. Hence, for us linear will continue to remain a significant business while the hybrid model is ideally positioned to unleash the power of both the mediums together.

As we usher into this new era, a combination of differentiated content and strong broadcast network that’ is complemented by a robust digital distribution channel becomes a winning formula. Today, the savvy broadcaster knows that it is critical to balance the growth of the core business with an eye to the future, seeking innovative ways to embrace the digital medium. With this, I can easily say that the narrative needs to now change from the apocalyptic prediction of TV’s future to the emergence of a diverse M&E landscape where digital and linear TV stand together. If there ever was a golden era of entertainment, it is today.

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