Discovery bets big on India, invests $ 2 billion in programming

The country delivers 40 per cent of the viewership in the Asia Pacific region, said JB Perrette, President, Discovery Networks International, talking about the impressive

e4m by Ankur Singh
Updated: Sep 22, 2014 8:14 AM
Discovery bets big on India, invests $ 2 billion in programming

Targeting its growth strategy toward entertaining 240 million unique viewers, Discovery Networks India recently grew to 11 distinct networks. India’s appetite for high-quality television with compelling characters and storytelling is on the rise. In anticipation of this trend, Discovery’s team in India has tripled the channel portfolio over the past five years.

“Discovery invests 2 billion dollars every year in programming content across its global portfolio. Our content spans genres including science, exploration, survival, natural history, technology, space, health and wellness, engineering, crime and investigation, civilisations, kids and more. We have an extensive library of content and own all or most rights to the majority of our content and footage, which enables us to utilise our vast library to launch brands and services in new markets,” said JB Perrette, President at Discovery Networks International, on the sidelines of the CII Big Picture event in New Delhi.

Discovery’s increased focus on the fastest growing Indian market which alone delivers 40 per cent of viewership of all Asia Pacific countries, is testimony to the fact that India is one of the most important markets for the network.

“We operate in over 220 countries. And, I get amazed to see India’s vibrancy and abundant optimism. The diversity of the Indian television industry and the ingenuity of the leaders amaze people all around the world. I was discussing with my colleagues on the role television plays in people’s lives in India. My assessment has been concurred - that television was, is and will continue to be the primary medium for information, learning and entertainment,” he pointed out.

Speaking of digitisation in India, Perrette feels that India has already commenced on its exciting journey of 100 per cent digitalisation and addressability. “I can say from my experience around the world that it will be a game changer for the industry. The prospect to engage in dialogue with a billion-plus consumers augurs well with the ambitions of broadcasters, both in India and around the world.”

When asked about Discovery’s monetisation strategy, Perrette said, the group is still experimenting with an “optimal monetisation” model.

“With 161 million TV households and growing, there is significant scope to grow for the differentiated and viewer centric network brands. India’s demographic advantage is unparalleled and a significant trigger for growth. With 50 per cent of the population under the age of 25 years, India is one of the most exciting economies for any global media company,” he pointed out.

According to him, the channel’s programmes resonate with a growing worldwide audience that wants to learn something new every day. That’s why Discovery’s strategy of investing in high-quality content that can be enjoyed around the globe, across every platform, continues being so successful, even in a world of rapid economic, technological and social change.

“The goal to take the Indian Media and Entertainment Industry to 100 billion-dollar mark is noteworthy. It reflects the confidence of a nation on the move. The way to achieve it is by building constructive partnerships amongst companies, clients, government, regulator and other influencing entities,” said Perrette.

“India is embracing new technology that keeps broadcasters like us engaged to keep up with the changing tastes and requirements of consumers. Broadcasters will continue to leverage the new Digital, On Demand and OTT platforms for both promotional and revenue advantages. However, no matter what technology we use, at the end of the day, great content is the key to viewer satisfaction,” he added.`

In India, it is the biggest non-fiction network, beamed in English, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil and Bangla as against the US, which has feeds in English and Spanish.

Discovery Network has been focused on making itself local of the Indian audience, and its new and refreshing Hindi entertainment channel, ID – Investigation Discovery is a strong step in that direction. “India’s multi-cultural, multi-lingual audience presents another growth driver. Innovation is essential to monetisation. Growth for any media company will continue if they manage to create new viewer segments and matching services. Global companies should have an expert team on the ground which can strategise as per the local market dynamics,” said Perrette.

According to him, this is “The Golden Age” of the global content business. Around the world, people are watching more TV content on more platforms than ever before. “India is widely recognised as a land of opportunities and I am confident on the robust future of the Indian television industry.”

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