Discovery Communications India, the 13-channel network that houses channels like Discovery, Animal Planet, TLC, and Discovery Kids, is looking at a busy 18 months ahead, as it chalks out its strategy for growth in India.
Present in the country for almost two decades, the network is now looking at growing by stepping up regional language penetration across key channels, and a robust direct-to-consumer digital product.
“One of the things we are focused on is bridging the gap between our channels and becoming the undisputed leader among factual entertainment channels,” says Megha Tata, managing director, South Asia, Discovery Communications India.
According to the Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC) viewership data, while Discovery Channel, the network’s flagship offering globally and in India, leads the infotainment genre with 3.7 million weekly impressions (week between June 8 and June 14), sister channel Animal Planet is at number five with 1.5 million weekly impressions.
Part of this will be achieved by revamping the look and feel of Animal Planet starting July 15. The channel will also be available in more Indian languages – starting with Tamil, in addition to English and Hindi. Additionally, the network will focus on infusing new content to its portfolio, aligning the focus on what Tata calls the original DNA of Discovery’s content – adrenaline and adventure.
“We will continue to do Indian IPs (intellectual properties) but we will follow the philosophy of less is more. So we’ll do fewer (IPs), but bigger ones,” she adds. As part of the regionalisation strategy, the channel, which is available in English, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, and Bengali, will also add Marathi, Malayalam, and Kannada as audio feed options. Tata further adds that content strategy to be adopted over the next few months reflects the shift in investment in content globally by Discovery.
Apart from infotainment, the network will also be significantly ramping up its investments on its kids channel Discovery Kids. Launched in 2012, and later revamped in 2018 with the introduction of local IPs, the channel is home to popular show Little Singham (an adaptation of Bollywood franchise Singham created by Rohit Shetty). “We already have around 150 episodes of the show, and will be doubling them by next year. Our investments on animation content in the (kids) genre will be among the largest in India,” Tata adds. The kids channel will also see the addition of two new languages – Malayalam, and Kannada. The channel is currently available in Hindi, English, Tamil, and Telugu.
Its lifestyle channel TLC will also see some rejig, with a lot of content from the Scripps network (which Discovery acquired in 2018) making its way into the channel in India. While it will work to revamp a lot of its existing channels to boost viewership, the network will not be reviving Discovery Jeet, the entertainment channel it launched last year, and will eventually phase it out. Its niche sports channel D-Sports, on the other hand, will continue operations for now.
Discovery’s digital product will also be aligned with the global strategy adopted by its American parent. However, the content and business model will be customised to the Indian market.
“We have a content library of 300, 000 hours, and so we can pick and choose what will work on digital. We’ll also focus on partnerships, like the one we have with Daily Hunt. It will also include a lot of Scripps content, and BBC content that will roll out eventually,” says Tata.
The channel has partnered Dailyhunt to distribute short-form content and has seen 400 million views so far, with seven million monthly active users.―Business Standard