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Infotainment, kids prime focus for Discovery; OTT service to launch in 2020

Discovery Communications India has a clear cut strategy for growth identified over the next 12-18 months – infotainment, kids and digital. For Megha Tata, who took charge as the Managing Director - South Asia, Discovery Communications India, in April this year, the focus would be on being the unparalleled leaders in the infotainment genre. 

Discovery Communications India’s portfolio today comprises 13 channels – Discovery Channel, Discovery HD World, Animal Planet, Animal Planet HD World, TLC, TLC HD World, Jeet Prime, Jeet Prime HD, Discovery Science, Discovery Turbo, Discovery Kids, Discovery Tamil and premium sports channel DSport. 

Tata remarked, “What Discovery has achieved in the last 25 years has been fantastic. We worked on a strategy that is aggressive yet achievable. Now, the whole organisation is in a transition mode and that’s great because that makes the momentum of what we want to do here faster as we are aligning to the global mandate as well.” 

In a bid to strengthen its presence in the infotainment space, Discovery has brought about a shift in its content over the past two years. Tata informed, “We have brought back the Discovery DNA with content that’s pure blood Discovery. We have been doing more Indian IPs. We want to have the ability to create and produce content that has the legs to run outside of India and have a global appeal.” 

Discovery Kids has been a great success story and according to Tata, it is the fastest growing kids’ channel, competing with channels that have been in the market for a much longer time. Now, Discovery Kids plans to invest far more in terms of doubling its content by not just adding to the already existing episodes, but also adding more shows to the channel. 

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While Tata refrained from giving out numbers, she said that advertising revenue growth on Discovery Kids has been amazing. “In fact, we’ve had a good revenue growth story across all our networks,” she added. 

Tata further said, “Another area of huge focus for us will be the transformation from D2C. We will be moving from a linear to non-linear proposition, wherein in the coming months we will be bringing an OTT platform proposition to the consumers.” 

Elaborating further, Tata said that digital forms one of the key pillars for Discovery. “‘Veer’ and ‘Rise’ were good experiments to gauge the potential of such content on the digital platform. The insight that we got was that there is an audience out there for such content. Further to that is our partnership with Daily Hunt, which was a big success story for us. It’s a great story and a lot of the success comes from the regional section. All this has led us to believe that there’s an opportunity for OTT and our kind of content layout in the market and that’s why we are launching an OTT platform. It will be launched by early next year.” 

Along with this, Discovery will keep investing in its regional strategy, which will further strengthen. In addition to the existing five languages – English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Bengali – Discover will be adding three more – Kannada, Malayalam and Marathi. 

However, the prognosis for Discovery’s Hindi entertainment foray, Jeet, is not very bright. Tata said that for now, there are no plans to invest in the GEC space, instead discovery will be focusing on what works for it and take that to the next level. 

As far as Animal Planet is concerned, Tata informed that effective July 15, 2019, Animal Planet will feature new shows, a new broadcast design and a new marketing campaign. “Between Discovery and Animal Planet, we have a strong reach in the infotainment section. It is comparable with the best in the industry when it comes to reach,” she affirmed. 

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“TLC will become a stronger proposition in the travel, lifestyle, and cooking space and we will play out the content mix that we have,” informed Tata. She added that the recently acquired Scripps has a lot of content that fit well on TLC. “We are not bringing those channels to India, but the content of those channels will be shown on TLC, which includes food network and travel content,” she said. 

Stating that sports channel DSports is “in this niche, happy space”, Tata maintained that the channel was never about big sports like cricket, “so it is doing what it is meant to be doing”. She further said, “There are many things that need to be done, so we will figure it out at some point.” 

Given the multiple plans line up, marketing will be a big focus. With the channel revamp, Animal Planet will start off with the refreshed marketing strategy. When Discovery Kids launches its new IP, it will be showcased through some extensive marketing plans. “We recently did a big network campaign, which talked about our packaging. It really worked well. Discovery will be driven through certain shows which will be launched soon. Digital marketing, geo-targeting and using social media effectively will be highly important for us,” Tata informed. 

When asked how TRAI’s new tariff order has impacted Discovery, Tata admitted that the new tariff order has had its own set of challenges and added that it was still a work in progress. She further said, “It has impacted everybody, including us. But the good part about it is that while we could have been impacted worse because of the genre that we are in, given the pull of the brand, people wanted Discovery and were willing to try it out. Had we not priced it right we might have not been able to go up that route well. Our product combination worked really well. We have 4 packages ranging from Rs 6 to Rs 10. We have multiple bouquets that are fairly economical. While the reach suffered slightly, the time spent went up and made our ranking stronger.”

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