Discovery India & BYJU’S to disrupt education space with Discovery School Super League

Vikram Tanna, VP, Head of Advertising Sales, Discovery Communications India, and Atit Mehta, Head of Marketing, BYJU’S say the content partnership deal leverages strengths of both the brands

e4m by Moumita Bhattacharjee
Updated: Apr 5, 2019 8:48 AM

Discovery India and BYJU’S - The Learning App have come together for Discovery School Super League (DSSL) which is set to go on air from the last week of April. The channel and BYJU’S reached out to over 12,000 schools across 29 states and one Union Territory (Delhi NCR) and have got 4,379,799 students to participate. An additional 1 million wild card entries have come through BYJU’S app. 

The Top 3 teams along with their school principals will win a trip to NASA and a cash prize. Exchange4media spoke to Vikram Tanna, VP, Head of Advertising Sales and Business Head of Regional Clusters, Discovery Communications India, and Atit Mehta, Head of Marketing, BYJU’S, to understand how a quiz show of such a scale was mounted and what do they expect to gain from it.

There aren’t too many quiz shows on Television. Did that foster this partnership between Discovery and BYJU’S?
Vikram Tanna: Two biggies - Discovery India and BYJU’S - have come together to build an integrated 360-degree IP revolving around learning and fun or self-initiated learning - Discovery School Super League Powered by BYJU’S. This landmark IP is setting new benchmarks, clearly emerging as India’s biggest ever integrated quiz show traversing across on-ground, digital and television. Discovery inspires, informs, and entertains superfans across the world with deeply loved and trusted brands. We have the unique capability to adapt to the requirement of the partner with an aim to create a world class IP. In this case, we had a one-line brief – let’s create an IP which disrupts the education space. We collaborated with the BYJU’S team to create this wonderful IP.

Atit Mehta: Our content offers courses in Maths and Science. When you look at a format like a quiz show, it’s not only about academic subjects but also about aptitude, logic, reasoning and speed. Discovery Communications and BYJU’S came together to create India's largest quiz contest across 29 states and one UT in Delhi NCR. 

So the dearth of quiz shows for kids on Television didn't prompt you to go for it?
Atit Mehta: DSSL is a quiz show which encourages students to approach learning with a whole new perspective. Celebrating the importance of lifelong learning, this quiz show aims at making learning fun, exciting and engaging. While there isn't any national-level quiz content, Discovery and BYJU’S decided that the best way to get back quizzing in schools was through a quiz contest and that led us to create India's biggest quiz show.
Discovery School Super League is supposed to be the biggest-ever content partnership for Discovery and BYJU’S?

Vikram Tanna: There is a natural affinity between Discovery, a brand synonymous with satisfying the curiosity of inquisitive minds, and BYJU’S - The Learning App, which makes learning a fun activity. Together we have engaged with school students and created great value for the channel, the partner and students alike. Yes, it is our biggest-ever content partnership deal. It's not a TV show like any other quiz contest. It leverages strengths of both the brands. BYJU’S has developed strong relationships with a network of schools across the country and has a huge strength in Digital. Discovery, on the other hand, is a global leader in real-life entertainment.
What is the format of the show?

Vikram Tanna: In the initial stage, we have qualified toppers from each school for the next phase. The phase 2 test was conducted in 196 cities – 2 toppers from each state qualified for the semis. The TV phase - the third phase - is going to feature 30 state-wise teams who will compete in 5 semi-finals (6 teams per episode). The winner of each semi-final will compete in the final. The quiz offers an exciting reward - top 3 teams, along with their school principals, will win a coveted trip to NASA and a cash prize.

What will be the revenue model for this show?

Vikram Tanna: It's simple. It benefits BYJU’S, it benefits Discovery in terms of ROI. It's a unique deal where both of us will make disproportionate ROI. 

Given the scale of the quiz, did you face any challenges?

Atit Mehta: There were a lot of challenges which the team faced for DSSL-1. I would classify the challenges in four buckets:

People: Getting the right personnel for the job was an important task. We had to look for the team across 200 cities in India for conducting R1 and R2. Post-recruitment training was required to maintain consistency in communication as they had to go and visit schools and interact with teachers and principal. 

Partners: The second challenge was partners across travel, logistics, printing and courier. We were working on a tight schedule as we wanted Round 1 to get over before Diwali Holidays started last year. Working across multiple partners across the length and breadth of the country was a big challenge.

Process: While people and partners were all in place, we had to create a very robust process to understand the day-to-day school on-boarding, R1 test at individual schools, participation certificates and question papers. This needed constant supervision. The DSSL team created a process that captured every activity across 12,500 schools and 43 lakh students who got enrolled into DSSL-1

Planning: The fourth challenge and the biggest one was planning. With so many partners, with so many people, multiple stakeholders, the single-largest challenge was to plan the entire journey well so that we could finish Season 1 on time. 
There were reports that the quiz show was supposed to go on-air in February but now it will hit TV screens in the last week of April. Did the long-drawn process lead the show to get pushed?
Vikram Tanna: To be very honest, the property received such a positive response from the word go that we kept on increasing the scope with an aim to cover more schools. We had to review our targets, and the timelines accordingly. We wanted to make it the biggest integrated quiz in the first year itself and are delighted with what we have achieved.
Will there be a season 2 of DSSL?
Atit Mehta:
We are delighted with how things have progressed. Imagine emerging possibilities in the future. Season 2 is on and it will be bigger and better.

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