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Rahul Johri on Discovery Networks’ regional forays and the best job in the world

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Rahul Johri on Discovery Networks’ regional forays and the best job in the world

Discovery Networks has had an eventful 2010 with a series of new shows, new channels, revamping the old ones (TLC) and expanding the reach of Discovery Channel by launching it in Tamil, and then in October this year, in Telugu too. exchange4media catches up with Rahul Johri, Senior Vice President & General Manager, India, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, who was in Bangalore to launch the channel’s new series, called ‘Ecopolis’.

In his own words, Johri called the year 2010 ‘exciting’, where the Discovery Networks increased its offering from three to six channels, increased its language to four (English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu) and showcased some path-breaking shows.

If one thought that the channel would be wrapping its offerings this year with ‘Ecopolis’, then one is hugely mistaken. Johri said, “Just now we are not done with 2010. I will not tell you just now, but one will hear of more launches this year from us. We have been working on our programme line-up for the last two years, including ‘Ecopolis’. It’s not as if our series materialise overnight. On the contrary, it takes a lot of work and planning. In the last year, we have really worked at sharpening our proposition to the Indian market, and what one sees is a result of that. Whether it is Discovery channel adding new programmes or even the new channels. A lot of planning and hard work has gone behind the scene to bring this to our viewers. We are on a mission right now and it’s really straightforward. India has one of the largest numbers of young people and they have a tremendous appetite to know more and we are on a mission to provide that.”

He continued, “Over the years, we have seen a change among viewers in their wants of the kind of programmes they want to watch. If earlier it was wildlife, it then moved to history, space, engineering, and now, there is a demand to view shows on Discovery’s view of our future. We are just catering to that need with our new line-ups.”

Talking about the factor that makes Discovery different, Johri said, “Discovery is different as we believe in doing things first and then talking about it. We have just started to talk about our Telugu launch, though it happened in October.”

Johri is confident of Discovery Channel’s foray into the regional language sphere, pointing out that Discovery in Tamil, which was launched almost 10 months back and had ranked 47 in terms of viewership in Tamil Nadu, had jumped to being ranked 11 after its launch.

He said, “Just from switching languages we jumped numbers and we didn’t even begin marketing our product. In Telugu language, we have been present for less than a month and just now it’s only six hours a day and we are already up by 90 per cent in our viewership. The focus now is to have a deeper engagement with the viewer, build more traction and localisation. A lot of people think localisation is making a couple of shows in India, but for us we run a huge dubbing operation and that’s localisation – giving content in a language that a viewer can understand.”

Johri further said that the mantra for the channel would remain the same in 2011 as it had been in 2010. Simply being – ‘Don’t talk big, but do big and then talk’. The year 2011 will see more of the same, so new shows, foraying into new languages and consolidating all the new initiatives while not stopping on taking new initiatives.

Johri concluded by saying, “Mine is the best job in the world. One is always excited by the possibility of doing something new and the speed at which we move... everybody has to be thinking of new ways to do things.”


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