Discovery Communications is making serious inroads in India now with its announcement of a new Hindi GEC called Discovery Jeet for the country. Scheduled for launch in the end of 2017, with 200-250 hours of local content (for the first three months), it is targeting the 15+ male audience with fact-inspired entertainment.
Positioned to be a male mass entertainment channel, Karan Bajaj, Discovery Network Asia-Pacific’s SVP and GM for South Asia, elaborates: “We are going to launch with 120 million households. We have the advantage of distribution. We want to make a dent in the category.”
“Also, with our core philosophy ‘Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakta Hu,’ we have a strong, distinct consumer proposition addressing a very significant white space in the market,” he adds.
Standing out with a different TG
Why male audience? “We think it’s the biggest white space. Our study suggests that this audience is completely underserved. If you go to them, they don’t relate to the content on television at all,” explains Bajaj.
He goes on to describe how his TG is different from the preconceived idea of a male audience: “If you think of an Indian male millennial, he is 21-year-old watching ‘Game of Thrones’ and that’s a cliché. But our strong consumer insight revealed that the Indian male youth is 28-years-old with a three-year-old daughter living in a one-or-two room house with his parents. His responsibility is of a caregiver for the whole family. At heart, the idea is being a hero for communities. We are choosing people like these.”
The insight has come out of a quantitative and qualitative study with Twitter and IMRB, respectively.
Bajaj feels comparing Discovery Jeet with other GECs is like comparing apples and oranges. “We aren’t competing with Star Plus or Colors as we will launch with a very different audience in mind. I want it (the channel) to be a very successful channel for male 15+,” he states with clarity.
Keeping that TG in mind, Bajaj is confident about the channel appealing to the advertisers. He says, “I think the male audience is a very premium audience. We are going to get a very strong reach with them.”
Like other channels, Discovery Jeet’s business model will be a mix of advertisement-driven and affiliated. Bajaj is looking to break even in “the foreseeable future”. He states that they have a sustainable financial plan in place for the channel.
Bajaj informs us that the channel was in works before he joined (last July) “to an extent”. “The thought process was in place.”
Purpose-driven content in place
Discovery Jeet will launch with four shows from 7 to 11pm as the primetime band across a range of genres such as true crime investigations, small-town heroes and gritty survival. The channel has already planned 350 hours for 2018.
Bajaj offers, “The shows are ‘Swami Baba Ramdev: The Untold Story’, a scripted biopic series tracing the yoga guru’s journey from his childhood to Patanjali, ‘Gabru: The Birth of Hip Hop’ on the birth of hip hop in India, ‘Saragarhi - India’s Bravest Day,’ the story of 21 Sikhs who fought 10,000 Afghans in the war, and ‘Gangs of Mumbai’ which talks about the rise and fall of the Mumbai underworld through character driven narratives and an ongoing hour of paranormal. All are fact and purpose-driven, but large scale entertainment.”
The primetime band will also include acquired content (both from and outside Discovery platform “wherever makes sense”) repackaged to suit local sentiments. On weekend programming, Bajaj mentions their detective show ‘Khan No 1’ and a fact-inspired comedy show with their own take on it. He promises that with time, there will be more emphasis on weekend programming.
Bajaj assures that despite his TG being the male audience, all the shows are apt for family viewing. “In a single TV household, it will work extremely well.”
Prior to this, Discovery Communications had announced its foray into the sports telecast space in India with the launch of an all-new sports channel called DSPORT in February, whose first week ratings had come out. When enquired, Bajaj was upbeat, “Very encouraging for our network.”
When it comes to the local content strategy for their infotainment Discovery Channel, Bajaj says it will be in the range of 10 to 20 hours, consistent to where the channel has been in the past. Priority is very much in place with the infotainment channel. “We are launching a show called ‘India’s Best Jobs’ in June on YouTube star, chefs and comedians. Our clear emphasis is that even as we launch Jeet, Discovery will continue to be the No. 1 in infotainment.”
On the digital front, Bajaj rules out the offering of OTT platform, but assures of something else in year end. “We are not joining the rat race. We think there is merit in owning the data from audience development as well as content creation perspective. So, we want to own the data but don’t want to launch our own platform. We will figure out a solution on how to do that. It will also happen this year end.”