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Discovery+ has seen 5-fold increase in original content: Megha Tata

In conversation with exchange4media, the Managing Director-South Asia of Discovery Inc also says it is gratifying to see that consumers are finally paying for content

e4m by Sonam Saini
Published: Apr 4, 2022 8:23 AM  | 5 min read
Megha Tata

Discovery+, which entered the OTT space during the lockdown in 2020, has seen five-fold growth in its original content, said Megha Tata, Managing Director-South Asia, Discovery Inc during a tete-a-tete with exchange4media. She also stated that the network's OTT platform has produced more content last year than Discovery did in the last 25 years of its presence in India.

Last week, the digital platform announced the launch of its upcoming docuseries - 'Legends of the Ramayana’ - that will go live on April 7. Prior to that, the network launched a reality show on the digital platform with actor Vidyut Jamal ‘India’s Ultimate Warrior’.

Read on to know what Tata has to say about the investment on Discovery Plus, SVOD & AVOD models, NTO 2.0 and the HBO Max merger.    

On content investment

"Discovery, in my opinion, had limitations. Being a TV network, there are specific genres for different channels like Discovery, TLC and Animal Planet, and one could only create content that suited that specific genre. However, once you have made it Plus, you can play with a wide range of content,” said Tata.

Talking about the new show, Tata said: “A lot of genres like this show (Ramayana) could not have resided on any of our existing channels because it is a historical, mythological, science, and research-led show, and not in the original Discovery Channels’ avatar. But now that we have it on Plus, it can come on TV as well. The plan, however, is to make it work on Plus.”

Viewers will see more content in genres like murder mystery, adventure and investigation to name a few, Tata added.

On SVOD & AVOD

“It's so gratifying to see that consumers are finally paying for content, which is something we've wanted as an industry for a long time.” According to Tata, the SVOD is where the business models are becoming more skewed. In this environment, AVOD is challenged, so Discovery + focuses on an SVOD offering; it does have a bit of an AVOD proposition, but the focus is on SVOD, she said.

“We wanted to concentrate on paid subscribers because we need to think about the long term. Many are moving in that direction because it's a more sustainable business model for us as well. As a result, we concentrated on SVOD.”

On Sports Content

Speaking of the network’s sporting properties, Tata said: “We have Eurosports in the TV space and some of the content comes on Plus too. Our proposition is more on the duality of sports than cricket. Most of the country loves cricket, which is great, but there are a few who do want to watch some other sports so we provide content for that. We're looking at creating some more originals and getting Indian indigenous content on sports as well. But it's not like a big proposition on the DPlus. Also, a lot will happen in the next few months, so let's see how that plays out and then we can decide.”     

NTO 2.0 Impact

According to Tata, NTO had a significant impact on everyone's business, particularly the special interest channels. “Fortunately, because we are in a very different genre and were the leaders, our impact was not as great as it could have been in other genres, such as the English GEC or movie genre, which were completely wiped out in many ways because everything went to OTT.”

Tata contends that Discovery+ has a distinct place as a genre. “We still have a market presence and thus our impact was not as dramatic.”

“Another factor I believe worked in our favour was pricing. Product and pricing are the two most important factors in any consumer's decision-making process. Our product had a distinct offering, and our pricing was ideal, and therefore it worked really well in the distribution playouts. Let's see how NTO 2.0 plays out.” 

Reach in Infotainment Genre

The genre’s reach and performance have dropped because there is an audience shift, says Tata. “This is why we have to be in that play (digital presence). If we were not, in the next five-seven years, we would have been a dead story.” 

“Businesses have to be seen from the future perspective but in the interest of the next 20 years, we can’t ignore the present. Our launch of Discovery+ was keeping that in mind. The launch happened around the time of the lockdown and it worked out well because people were at home and they wanted to watch more content. But I think in the next few years this balance will need to get more defined. We will have to figure out how to keep our television business sales strong enough but look at the growth coming in from the digital business.” 

On the HBO Max Merger

Tata was quick to assert that the HBO Max merger was moving as per plan. “We're really excited about the possibilities, but let the closure happen and then we can talk,” she said while signing off.

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