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There is no big player offering unscripted content in OTT: Megha Tata

Discovery has expanded its offering with the launch of their subscription streaming service called Discovery Plus. With an introductory offer of Rs 299 per annum, the app has been developed and curated specifically for India. The launch of the app will be followed by a marketing campaign, called ‘App interesting to Aap interesting’, which alludes to the social currency gained by watching infotainment. 

In the initial phase, the company will reach out to 25 million strong base of core TV infotainment consumers across Tier 1 and 2 towns (defined as those who watch over 3 hours of infotainment every month). The positioning of the app essentially says that by consuming Discovery content, one becomes a lot more interesting. The campaign film will go live this week. Discovery has already launched a functional performance marketing campaign. While the premium audience tends to veer towards unscripted content, Discovery is targeting the mass market with their product offering. In addition, Discovery has planned a strong and targeted digital campaign to reach out to infotainment genre seekers. 

The campaign has been conceptualised by Taproot Dentsu, while BBH India is leading the digital campaign. 

The new logo for Discovery Plus has been created by Superunion. 

Before hitting the market, Discovery India had conducted multiple consumer researches. In a nationwide research conducted across 10 cities, 62 per cent of the consumers indicated that they are keen to subscribe to a product that will offer interesting knowledge about the world. Additionally, research by Vidooly indicated that interest in core categories of factual and lifestyle entertainment on YouTube, the world’s largest streaming platform, went up by 36 per cent, contributing to an overall 70 billion views in 2020. This growth and increase in infotainment consumption has been proven in the consumption pattern of the Discovery Plus destination on Daily Hunt App, where over the last 12 months, over 40 million consumers have viewed Discovery short-form videos. 

In conversation with Adgully, Megha Tata, Managing Director - South Asia, Discovery, and Issac John, Business Head - Digital (South Asia), Discovery, share the strategy for entering the OTT space. 

On the OTT strategy.

Megha Tata: We’ve been in the country for over 25 years, leading the space of real life entertainment. We’ve been appealing to the audiences with appealing content targeted towards these passionate communities. We also realised that this content is language agnostic so offering them in local languages is a strategy that really worked well for regional audiences to consume our content. 

Across our networks, we were only able to reach out to a certain set of audiences through linear TV. But we also realised that now a lot of content is getting consumed outside television. TV is an important medium, but there are people who want to consume content on their devices too. We thought this is something that we need to address. We need to be where our consumers are and need to provide them the content there. That was one big insight that we worked upon. 

With so many OTT players in the market, we wondered if there was room for another one to have a share of voice. We went out and researched and between that and our internal insights, being in this space for so long, if you visualise a Venn diagram, you will find all the OTT players on the left in the scripted entertainment space, however, on the right side, in the real life entertainment or factual entertainment space, there is not a single player. A few guys have this kind of content, but the number of hours of content is not even comparable – it’s chalk and cheese. 

We felt there is a white space for a proposition that is very distinctive, catering to our audience who are already consuming this content and appreciate it. We want to offer the ability to the consumer to consume this content on the device of his choice. 

The biggest challenge that existing OTT players in the scripted space deal with is the cost of content. Each one of them is outdoing the other and obviously it is not a very sustainable model in the long run. We have a huge library of content – 300,000 hours of content that is replenished with 8,000 hours of content every year. A lot of that content hasn’t even seen the light of day in India. We created and curated a product for the Indian audiences, keeping in mind their sensibilities and what will work for this market. 

How is the product differentiated from the TV offering?

Issac John: There are four content pillars that the app offers. If you look at the ‘Shorts’ section, it is a very unique way of looking at Discovery content. Usually we do 40-minute, 60-minute Specials, but we’ve actually taken a stab at making content that allows for easier adoption. 

The second pillar is the digital exclusives themselves within the core categories that we operate in. We have shows that are actually the No.1 in each of those categories. There is Bear Grylls, which is going to drop on the app 14 hours earlier than TV. We have ‘Wild Karnataka’, a documentary special narrated by (David) Attenborough himself. We’ve got the new season of ‘Top Gear’. We are going to go after the No. 1 IPs in each of the categories that we operate in. 

The third pillar is the ‘Mindblown’ section in which we have curated a set of content pieces from our bank to make it easier for consumers to navigate. There is a collection we dropped, called ‘Mission Moon’, which is a thematic curated collection of four episodes that enables discovery for the user. Suppose the consumer does not want to watch episode 8 of ‘Curiosity’ season 5, but he is just curious about certain topics from the world, then he can browse the ‘Mindblown’ section to see what he wants to retain and watch. 

The fourth pillar is stuff that has never been shown before, stuff that Discovery always has a point of view on. It is called ‘Deep Access’. To give you an example, this week we are dropping a documentary on ‘Coronavirus’, which is currently the most talked about thing in the world. We have one documentary dropping this week and two more specials dropping in the next two weeks about Coronavirus. We will bring Discovery’s access and point of view on some of these world defining events.

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