Discovery aims to launch its D2C platform in India next year

July 12, 2019 12:14 AM

Investing in content is the key priority for us, and regionalisation will happen through our language initiatives

Megha Tata, MD, South Asia, Discovery Communications India (Image: Pradip Das)Megha Tata, MD, South Asia, Discovery Communications India (Image: Pradip Das)

By Sonam Saini

In a bid to strengthen its position in the infotainment space, Discovery Communications India is beefing up its kids channel content and revamping Animal Planet. Megha Tata tells Sonam Saini that the network is working on launching a direct-to-consumer (D2C) platform in India, original content and a stronger regional reach. Edited excerpts:

How has the new tariff order (NTO) impacted viewership and revenue of the infotainment genre as well as the Discovery HD portfolio?
In spite of the challenges that the industry is facing with the NTO, the audience has accepted our brand. We are strongly positioned in the market for two key reasons: the brand pull and pricing. We have the most economical packages under the Discovery portfolio. We haven’t seen any impact on our channel viewership or revenue. On the contrary, there has been a 20-30% increase in time spent on our channel.

HD penetration may have been negatively impacted post the implementation of NTO, particularly the sports genre, but it doesn’t impact our HD portfolio because we have priced it attractively.

When is Discovery planning to finally launch its own digital platform?
The world is changing and so is the consumption pattern of content. We are in the phase of transformation from transition. Globally, the transformation is taking place in technology and the D2C (direct to consumer) space. Aligning with the D2C proposition globally, we will also be launching our own D2C play in India early next year. It will be a combination of both SVoD and AVoD models.

Is the Indian audience ready to pay for infotainment content on SVoD platforms?
I think so. There are multiple ways to attract the consumer. Ours will be a customised app made for Indians. The audience in the country is ready to pay for content, but we have to bring in the uniqueness. We are not competing in the entertainment or live streaming D2C space. We are uniquely positioned to bring out a differentiated offering. We already have nearly three lakh hours of content and are creating 8,000 hours of content every year.

The acquisition of Scripps TV will also bring in a huge amount of content which can be utilised on this platform, besides the linear platform. Our recent partnership with BBC Studios also gives us an exclusive library of content.

How do you plan to prioritise your kids and sports offerings?
After investing in original content and launching a digital platform, the kids genre is our next priority. There is a great opportunity to grow the kids category in the country. We will be investing more in creating content and IPs for Discovery Kids. Little Singham has been a huge success and we will be launching another IP soon to complement it. We want to be among the top three channels in the kids genre. Furthermore, on July 15, we will rebrand our infotainment channel Animal Planet. Apart from a new look, we’ll be launching a one-hour kids special show, too.

Regarding our sports channel Dsport, it is a small but strong player right now. Since its launch, it was clear that Dsport will cater to a niche segment. We have a lot of brands under Discovery, but we are in the midst of prioritising right now. We will see how to develop Dsport as we go further.

What led to the launch of Discovery Plus on the Dailyhunt app?
The partnership was worked out in line with the plan of launching our own D2C platform. The content on the platform is from our existing library, but in a different format. In the last four months, the short format video feature has got 400 million views and nearly seven million monthly active users (MAUs). This is testimony to the fact that our content is being consumed digitally. Since Dailyhunt is available in regional languages as well, we have recorded the highest content consumption from those markets.

How important is the regional market for Discovery India?
It is an important part of the network. Investing in content is the key priority for us, and regionalisation will happen through our language initiatives. The growth of our channel has happened because of language feeds. Discovery is available in five languages and soon we will launch three more. We have a dedicated Discovery Tamil channel in the South market which is different from our Tamil feed. It’s a separate proposition and another focus area for us to grow in that market.

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