On the India trail

Written by Anushree Bhattacharyya | Updated: Oct 14 2014, 06:54am hrs
From showing global content to gradually increasing local content in addition to introducing language feeds to finally launching its first Hindi entertainment channel Investigation Discovery aka ID last month, Discovery Networks has come a long way in India. And the broadcaster now plans to turn India into an export hub for content. According to J.B. Perrette, president of Discovery Networks International, the natural geography and cultural richness of India makes the country an apt destination when it comes to searching for stories that appeal to viewers across the world. As story-tellers, the objective is to find great stories and characters. India is a great place when it comes to finding the kind of stories we tell. For example, whether it is about finding wildlife across the country, or telling stories about various important historical figures, there is no dearth of factual stories in this country, said Perrette.

Discovery, which invests $2 billion every year in programming content across its global portfolio, is not only looking at creating standalone shows on India, it is also creating a series of programmes where it could also feature stories from India. For Perrette, India is no longer the land of snake charmers; instead its growth story has caught the attention of people across the world. The idea is to look at stories that would attract global viewers from across the world. For instance, our show on this year's general election drew a lot of interest. There is no country in the world which can boast of about 1.2 billion people voting for a new government. The sheer scale of the election process and the many behind-the-scene stories is of great interest to many people across the globe. Similarly, another show called Presidents Palace was of great interest to viewers. With no one really having been inside the Presidents Palace it generated a lot of interest, he added.

He goes on to say that the show President's Palace helped in creating an series on hidden palaces. With so many hidden palaces located around the world, the show gave us an idea to create an entire series. Such content is again very gripping for viewers across the world. So these are some of the ideas on how we can incorporate some of the brilliant stories from India as an individual programme or a part of an international series, added Perrette.

Additionally, the company will continue with its strategy of super serving (finding niche viewer segments within the niche genre) audiences with the launch of niche and targetted channels across the globe. We look at our capabilities in addition to genres and see the areas where we can we find new blank spaces to create a new brand. We still believe that if you super serve an audience you can build a brand. For instance, ID did not exist five years ago and now its the number four network for women in the United States. People in the US watch the channel on an average of 44 minutes daily, said Perrette.

With 11 of its total 13 global channels now present in India, Perrette claims that Discovery Networks is currently in the growth mode in the country and a lot more can be expected from the niche player.

We have a great business and we have a great organic story to tell. One of the reasons we

have tasted success in India is that we have launched new channels smartly with existing content apart from creating

locally relevant content. Going forward, apart from creating more local content the focus would be on providing content across various screens, said Parrette.

For the record, Discovery Networks has a subscriber base of 240 million viewers in India.