In its bid to triple viewership and reach out to a wider set of audiences, Discovery Communications India today said it will be launching direct- to-consumer, mobile-first channels early next year and tied up with Vodafone Play, YouTube, Facebook and RJio for the same. The channel has identified four interest areas– military, female activism, auto and food– and will be rolling out its military platform ‘Veer’ and the female infotainment platform ‘Rise’ in the first quarter of 2018, with around 1,000 videos and over 100 hrs of original content. Its eponymous Discovery Channel has a reach of 21 million in the country and it expects the new digital offerings to add 18 million viewers on YouTube, 16 million on Facebook and 6 million on telecos. “Digital viewership of our genre is significantly more than TV viewership of our genre, because of the nature. TV viewership of factual lifestyle entertainment channel is under 2 per cent of the total viewership while its digital viewership is 15 per cent of total digital viewership,” Discovery Communications India SVP and GM for South Asia Karan Bajaj told reporters.
He further said 85 per cent of the digital content is consumed through smartphones and 80 per cent of the content available is linear in nature. “We are creating and curating content for the smartphone universe…We aim to be in the top 20 channels on YouTube over the next six months,” he said. On the rationale for not launching its own over-the- top (OTT) offering, Bajaj said, “our thesis is that in the next five years only two bundles will be successful on digital: one is the aggregator model, which I expect will consolidate into three-four players. And we are very clear that we don’t want to be in the aggregator game; that’s not our strategic strength.”
The second model, he said, is the passionate community model that accounts for 30 per cent of the digital consumption at present. “They are not passionate communities of Discovery but they are the passionate communities of auto, military. It is a consumer-led lens of looking at it rather than from a broadcaster’s lens,” he said. The digital content will be tailor-made for the different platforms and the videos would be available in the long- mid-, and short-forms. Discovery also plans to offer the regional language feeds for its digital content after three months and Bajaj said vernacular digital is a fast growing space.