Arthur Bastings, President and MD of Discovery Networks Asia Pacific, has reiterated the company’s endeavour to improve and expand its digital presence in India. Admitting that Discovery has not really invested a lot on digital in the Asian market, especially in India, he said, “There is no specific announcement on this front but this is something that we are very much looking at. We will really underpin our digital strategy going forward.”
Bastings was in town to announce Discovery’s acquisition of majority stake in Sanjeev Kapoor-led FoodFood. Talking about FoodFood’s social media presence, Bastings said, “FoodFood has not only developed a TV product but has also done a lot in the social media space with YouTube and some other products off screen, and that is a testament of a very strong brand. This highlights something all of us need to focus on; which is building communities around video properties.”
Discovery said it will focus on improving the distribution and sales for FoodFood but Bastings pointed out that there were metrics other than reach and view time that need to be considered by advertisers. “Social media is evolving very fast, new platforms are coming up and there are new audiences we might want to reach, so we will discuss which are the relevant platforms for us,” he said.
In 2014, FoodFood became the first food focused channel to launch its own e-commerce platform on its official website. Media reports have suggested that one of the reasons for the exit of investors Astro from the original JV was that they did not want to raise investments, especially in e-commerce expansion, something that promoter Sanjeev Kapoor feels is very important.
Talking about the potential of the food category with exchange4media, Kapoor said, “For YouTube, food is in one of their top three growth categories for India. When you have that kind of numbers, revenue will follow. Currently we are looking at monetization from eyeballs. Why is travel valued more? It is because it is not only built around this. Food gives you the opportunity where you can entertain and also start transactions. That is where the real money will start coming in. These are very early days but the good thing is that the consumption is present.”
It is not known whether with Discovery’s backing, FoodFood will make a more determined push in the e-commerce sector, as both Kapoor and Bastings would not get into specifics.
However, Bastings said that Discovery would be making investments to expand FoodFood. “Doing more than in the space we love, which is lifestyle, is a natural fit for us. It is also about adding value.
What we contribute is sales and distribution expertise and growth and investment mindset. We are a company that has an investment drive. We want to enhance our exposure to India and this is a great way to do it. There is no point Discovery taking a partnership like this and not growing it,” he said.
One area where these investments will take place, said Bastings, is to create new, local content and in getting more celebrity names to associate with the programming.