For Discovery Networks, lifestyle programming is the next big television opportunity and consequently the organisation has launched its international lifestyle initiative. With its new channel, Discovery Travel and Living, the initiative kick-starts in India and is set to roll out globally in months to come.
With the belief, based on study and research, that currently there isn’t a single channel that offers lifestyle programming, Discovery has a game plan in place. The media house intends to launch three channels in the lifestyle space catering to three different targets.
“‘Discovery Travel and Living’ (DT&L) is the first of these,” shares Rahul Johri, VP, Ad Sales, “This channel is catering to upper SEC’s 18-45-year-old audience. The second channel is called ‘Real Time’ (RT), which is catering to the same audience, is meant for the male targets. The third one ‘Home & Health’ (H&H) is for the female target.”
He further explains that DT&L was launched in the Indian market, as this is where they saw the highest potential for the growth and then consequent expansion of the channel. The channel will be present in Asia next month, South America in the following months and unrolling in this phase-wise manner will be available worldwide by May 2005.
As for RT, Johri explains that the channel will be launched wherever maximum potential around it is seen, “Such an offering would be big in a market like the UK. No decisions on these are taken as yet but that would be the basic thought process that would go for airing these channels.”
The raison d'être
The channel’s Director, Marketing, Aditya Tripathi shares on the reasons that led to the inception of this initiative. “The size of the target that we aim to cater to is 75 million. Our research further shows that consumption is no longer dependent on income. Eating out is frequent, shopping is leisure activity, families go to malls and spend a day there. There has been an addition of almost 40 million sq ft in retail space in 2003-04 alone.”
Enumerating various other findings that indicate changes in the consumption behaviour of the Indian audience, he shares that there is a 270 per cent increase in disposable income since 1990. Factor like an increase in the urban India populace, presence of 10 million credit card holders and the dual income families’ phenomenon increasing, annual car sales going up by four per cent – all lead to just one factor – there is ample space for an offering like this for the Indian viewer.
“It was based on all this and the fact that the growth level is such that no presentation is ever updated because there are changes everyday that we realised the lifestyle programming is the next big television opportunity,” states Tripathi.
The Ad Sales and Marketing
In a bid to ensure that the channel finds its own footing in the Indian scene, Johri explains that the ad sales teams for Discovery Channel and DT&L are separate. Says he, “We are not offering any package deals or even bundling up the channels. What is encouraging is that the advertiser response so far for the channel has been very positive.”
The channel claims that already 12 advertisers are on board. They include the likes of General Motors, Chevrolet, Skoda, LG and Samsung amongst others. The channel is strictly working on independent deals for both the channels. As is the case with Discovery Channel, for DT&L too, it is following the 12-minute commercial time in 60 minute programming pattern. Of these, nine minutes are advertising and three minutes for channel promos.
As for the marketing, the channel has devised a ‘Get a Life’ campaign that will go on air in another couple of week’s time. Explaining more on this, Tripathi says, “Our distribution is already in place in key markets like Mumbai, Delhi etc but we want it to be more robust before we break the campaign. We are aiming at being present in over 15 million homes in another two-month’s time.”
The channel indicates that quite a lot is planned on-air and off-air for the channel. Given the number of channels that want to be present in the lifestyle space, Discovery would certainly want to make the right noise around its new offering to ensure that it manages the target it is eyeing.
In terms of programming, Tripathi says that in a nutshell it can be called aspirational, real, positive, smart and the right bait to lure the upscale audience. “We are looking at Indians who have an international outlook and our programming reflects that,” he says.
In its current form, the programming has a very large portion of outsourced international programming. Though there are shows that are meant for the Indian viewers, presently there aren’t too many. However, the channel does intend to increase this percentage in days to come.