Dis­cov­ery Ready to Play, Spend Big in In­dia Push

The chan­nel will en­ter new gen­res and change the pro­gram­ming mix in a bid to re­gain growth un­der the new lead­er­ship

The Economic Times - - Brands & Companies - Gau­rav.Laghate@ times­group.com

Mum­bai: After re­view­ing its In­dia op­er­a­tions, Dis­cov­ery In­dia has re­jigged its strat­egy with a fo­cus to re­gain growth un­der the lead­er­ship of newly ap­pointed se­nior VP and gen­eral man­ager - South Asia, Karan Ba­jaj. The me­dia com­pany will now fol­low a two pronged ap­proach; en­ter­ing new gen­res and chang­ing the pro­gram­ming mix.

As part of its new strat­egy, the com­pany has an­nounced the launch of its sports chan­nel DSPORT on Mon­day, while also an­nounc­ing a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the in­vest­ments into pro­gram­ming.

“We are go­ing to in­vest mil­lions of dol­lars in In­dia and by end of 2017, In­dia will be one of the top 3 fastest grow­ing mar­kets for Dis­cov­ery across the world,” Ba­jaj said.

“We will rein­vent the core or­ganic prop­er­ties by act­ing like a cat­e­gory leader,” he added.

In­dia has been a key mar­ket for Dis­cov­ery Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, the world’s largest fac­tual en­ter­tain­ment com­pany.

How­ever, the global bosses in the com­pany were not too pleased with the per­for­mance for some time, which re­sulted in a ma­jor busi­ness re­align­ment and lead­er­ship change ex­er­cise.

In the last few months, the In­dia busi­ness has seen sig­nif­i­cant changes, in­clud­ing re­align­ment into two ver­ti­cals – Fe­males & Fam­ily (TLC, Dis­cov­ery Kids and ID) and Real World (Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel, An­i­mal Planet). How­ever, in­dus­try watch­ers say that Dis­cov­ery Net­work is los­ing on two grounds - its rel­e­vance in In­dia is un­der at­tack with stiff com­pe­ti­tion from strong brands like His­tory TV18, NGC and up­com­ing Sony BBC Earth, and it doesn’t have a strong bou­quet of chan­nels and thus a ne­go­ti­at­ing power in ab­sence of chan­nels in sports, gen­eral en­ter­tain­ment and movie gen­res.

“Sports, gen­eral en­ter­tain­ment and movie chan­nels take up over 80% of the to­tal ad pie. The dis­tri­bu­tion deals (charge per sub­scriber) need driver chan­nels and con­tent. The driver chan­nel (Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel) too is de­void of strong BBC earth con­tent of the glory days. Hence, net­work would have lim­ited ap­peal,” opined Su­nil Pun­jabi, se­nior me­dia con­sul­tant and for­mer busi­ness head at Sony Pic­tures Net­works.

How­ever, Ba­jaj is hope­ful of meet­ing the am­bi­tious tar­gets set by the global bosses, as the com­pany gear­ing up to re-launch its flag­ship brand, Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel, with a much higher lo­cal flavour. “The way to grow is to ex­pand the whole cat­e­gory by serv­ing a deeper set of con­sumers. Our his­tor­i­cal skew has been very metro, tier I. We are go­ing after Tier II and III con­sumers with same brand promise of open­ing win­dows to an ex­tra­or­di­nary world,” Ba­jaj added.

In­ter­est­ingly, from av­er­age of five hours of lo­cal con­tent per year, Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel will have 200 hours of lo­cal pro­gram­ming, start­ing June this year.

The com­pany will also ex­pand the gen­res it has been cov­er­ing on the flag­ship chan­nel – sur­vival and out­door, which Ba­jaj feels has a lim­ited space – to gen­res of crime, mil­i­tary, and in­spi­ra­tional. “We are mak­ing a big bet into ex­pand­ing the gen­res, chang­ing the scale of lo­cal pro­gram­ming. If you think of dis­cov­ery, you think of doc­u­men­taries. So we are mov­ing to­wards a sto­ry­telling ap­proach,” he added.

Mean­while, on sports front, the com­pany will not go after flashy or big ticket ac­qui­si­tions. It will have over 4,000 hours of live pro­gram­ming, in­clud­ing over 2,000 hours of horse rac­ing, 900 hours of foot­ball, three of the four top golf ma­jors and rugby.

As part of its new strat­egy, the com­pany has an­nounced the launch of its sports chan­nel DSPORT on Mon­day

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