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JB Perrette outlines Discovery’s focus areas to grow the India biz

MUMBAI: In order to grow the India business, Discovery is open to inorganic opportunities, has plans to enter new genres, and is targeting the digital landscape through OTT.

Discovery is also looking to optimise the Indian portfolio of channels through more languages and regionalisation, said Discovery Networks International president JB Perrette.

While the broadcaster has been in the country for 20 years, Perrette feels that there is still more to do. “The first area of focus is to optimise our portfolio of channels. The second area is to enter new genres. We will look at both organic and inorganic growth opportunities. The third area is OTT. We look at it as being an add-on to TV. We have Eurosport Player and D Play in Europe. We will look at building our strategy in this area in India in the months to come. We want to double down on our initiatives in India,” he said.

The opportunity for Discovery is to use different platforms, including Reliance Jio. He sees scope of localising D News for India. Through this platform, Discovery offers coverage of news but in a way that one would expect from the broadcaster.

Jean-Briac-PerretteSpeaking at this year’s edition of FICCI Frames, Perrette said that in markets like Scandinavia where there is high broadband penetration and OTT has been there for years, traditional TV is on a decline. He further noted that India has ratings challenges.

“We are not in the television screen business but in the television content business. Access to our content and measurement are our priorities. We need to see exactly where people are consuming our content.”

Perrette noted that OTT is a global strategy for the broadcaster, but the business model for digital is evolving. He pointed out to the Discovery Digital Network.

At the same time, any digital strategy needs time to evolve. He offered the example of Hulu, saying that initially it was ad supported as the market was not ready for subscription. People have to be ready and familiar with a platform. He noted that he brings a digital lens to the business. “You cannot act as a gatekeeper. My media experience is in one place. People want aggregation. They do not want to go to 15 places to look for music,” Perrette averred.

The global strategy for Discovery is three fold. The first is to grow the audience base on TV and mobile. “Earlier, we were targeting one billion viewers. Now we are targeting 10 billion devices. This is our new aim.”

The second area for Perrette is getting more must-have IPs. This means moving into more genres and servicing them.
In the third area, the broadcaster believes that in a digital world strong and curated brands will be the key to success in a world of infinite choice.

“Discovery is associated with our flagship Discovery. But we are more than just that. We are present in 220 markets. On average, we have 10 channels in each market. We are in the female genre. In kids we are number one in Latin America. We are in sports through Eurosport. We have embraced change. It is a continuation of our evolution from a great TV company to a great media company.”

The company’s programming philosophy is to entertain, educate and inform. The aim is to have channels that ignite and satisfy curiosity. Perrette noted that earlier Discovery used to make content in the US and then send it to the rest of the world. Now the aim is to tell Indian stories to the rest of the world.

“People should call us and tell us that they have a great story or an idea that they want to be shown. It is not a one-way street but a global highway,” he said.

Since Discovery believes strongly in localisation, resources are allocated where there are the best opportunities. At the same time, there is no fixed model of how much content should be local. It is market dependant.

Perrette noted that Discovery has done over 100 hours of local content in the country. He conceded that factual has scope for further growth in the country. “Factual could be a bigger genre though it will not be as big as cricket. We can do a better job. The category could be marketed better. People see discovery as being a documentary channel.” For Perrette, things like the EPG position are key going forward.

“We try not to be 100% sweet. At the same time, we do not want to be 100% broccoli either,” he said. There has been an explosion in the amount of nonfiction content that people globally watch. He cited the example of YouTube where 90% of content consumption is nonfiction.

“We at Discovery are storytellers. We are more aspirational, blue sky and we look at where things are going rather than looking back at the past. That is what separates us from the other players in the factual category.”

Perrette concluded by talking about the pricing of OTT versus traditional television. The US, he said, is unique in that the price points between TV and OTT is the biggest in the world. While Netflix is a top 10 network, it is just one network. Discovery, on the other hand, created ID five years ago. He claims that it is now the No. 1 women’s channel.

Perrette feels that the price issue will be a challenge for OTT in markets like India where traditional TV pricing is lower than subscription OTT.

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