VP, Head of Advertising Sales & Business Head of Regional Clusters
Discovery is known for its international content, and engaging shows. Give us a little peek into the process that goes into deciding the themes for these shows, specially the large IPs that you launched in the festive season?
Discovery is the global leader in real life entertainment that serves passionate fans with content that inspires, informs, and entertains with leadership across deeply loved and trusted brands. Discovery with its offering of 12 channels has clearly established itself as India’s numero-uno infotainment network.
Discovery at its core, as a company, is really about quality content that satisfies curiosity. That is our niche, that's what we do best. We try and create universally-appealing content that can be localized via presenters and local languages, so that it feels local. Our focus is also to create something that will have some real shelf life.
Over the past 2 years, there has been an accelerated focus on creating local content in India. During the festive season, Discovery Channel premiered a special series on one of the most famous warfare academies of the world – High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) – as a part of its extremely popular Breaking Point franchise. Moonbound, a real story of a privately funded Indian start-up that aimed for the moon garnered lot of traction.
Animal Planet channel has always been at the forefront of promoting conservation of wild animals. The channel showcased the second season of Mission Big Cat – an anthology of shows dedicated to Big Cats. I am delighted to share that leading Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma has joined hands with us to promote a global awareness movement to save tigers from extinction.
TLC’s hugely entertaining show ‘Midnight Misadventures with Mallika Dua’ featured luminaries from varied fields. We offered a clutter breaking once-in-a-life time opportunity to people stuck in the most boring job with The Calling.
This impressive line-up enthused our ad-partners as well – we had 36 partners who came on-board on the IPs launched during the festive season.
Tell us a little bit about your Branded content initiatives and how brands can choose to associate with these.
Brands are now looking for deeper engagement with the audiences. We try and co-create impactful content (along with the partner brand) based on deep understanding of the values of the partner brand and strengthen it through a shared narrative.
Let me cite an example - we joined hands with BYJU’s - the learning app, to launch India’s biggest ever integrated school quiz show titled Discovery School Super League Powered by BYJU’s. We collaborated with BYJU’s to create a larger than life concept and delivered it to perfection. The initial brief from BYJU’s was simple – develop an integrated show to engage with the audiences using relevant content and context.
Working closely with the team at BYJU’s, the show has come to life at a never before scale. The Discovery School Super League Powered by BYJU’s will transverse across on-ground, digital and television media reaching out to a staggering 12000+ schools across 30 states & union territories hosting the initial on-ground round, in the process targeting more than 25 lakh students in the age-group of 8 to 14 years. Layered into 3 rounds – at School Level, City Level and State level, the quiz will culminate into a 6-episodes TV quiz show which will premiere on Discovery Channel, Discovery HD World, Discovery Science & Discovery Kids early next year. The scale of the quiz show can be gauged by the fact that the winners of the inaugural edition of Discovery School Super League Powered by BYJU’s will get a special prize of spending a day at NASA.
How is the kids genre shaping up for you with Discovery Kids? How should brands negotiate this space, and what kind of integrations see maximum impact?
We are excited with what we have been able to achieve with Discovery Kids. The channel has leap frogged from being 9th at the beginning of the year to a top 5 channel. Ratings have grown by more than 400% since the beginning of the year. One of the key reasons for the exponential growth of Discovery Kids is that we have singled out shows which went on to captivate and engage kids in India. We will continue to invest in differentiated content as we try and take Discovery Kids to the leadership space in the kids genre in the country.
Little Singham, the Bollywood inspired IP, has caught the attention of children across the country. The familiarity of the Singham brand, the explosion of entertainment it provides makes for a very engaging content. We have seen significant upside from advertisers who are keen to leverage the growing popularity of Little Singham. We are exploring options to best skin Little Singham IP by extending the brand in varied categories through merchandising and licensing – I think it offers a big window for brands to tie-up and offer a co-owned experience to their audiences.
TV viewing is still going strong, but the threat of cord -cutting is upcoming. Do you see any such trends in your viewership, and how is Discovery poised to face this challenge?
India is a unique country in the world, where linear TV continues to grow along with digital. TV penetration in India is still only at around 65% of the total households, which is expected to grow in the years to come. There is an increased traction for multi-screen viewing in India, which offers opportunities for content leaders like Discovery. We are excited about our prospects as we see lot of potential in this market.
OTT platforms seem to be the current big thing for content publishers. How do you see this space evolving in 2019 and beyond?
The penetration of OTTs is under indexed in India vis-à-vis western countries. The market for OTTs is heating up and that’s great news for the consumer.
I think the OTT space will go the telecom way. Data became cheaper leading to consolidation in the telecom sector. From an OTT perspective, currently, there is an explosion of OTTs who are investing a lot on content but ultimately select few – who have got their business model right - will sustain.
One important parameter which we need to be cognizant of is that the Indian consumer is very price sensitive. The linear TV in India, for instance, costs a fraction of what it does in west. From an OTT perspective, in my view, AVOD model will garner a bigger pie vis-à-vis SVOD.