Discovery Jeet looks to disrupt the Hindi GEC market with aggressive content, distribution strategy

UMBAI: Discovery Communications India is leaving no stone unturned to create a big impact for its foray into the Hindi GEC space with Discovery Jeet. The channel officially launches on 12 February 2018 but will be available from 1 February in 120 million homes. Deals have been done with cable and satellite and DTH service providers. In addition, the channel will also be available in Tamil and Telugu through a dubbed feed in addition to Hindi.

On the OTT front, Discovery Jeet has done a content licensing deal with Internet TV network Netflix which will be the exclusive global OTT platform partner. The deal will allow the broadcaster to reach audiences in over 190 countries. As part of the deal, the content will be available after it has aired on Discovery Jeet. The GEC is also looking at content licensing opportunities overseas in markets like the Middle East, the US, UK. He is also open to selling IPs that Discovery Jeet creates.

The broadcaster maintains that the channel is targeted at the family and not just at male viewers although some shows feature male protagonists. The aim of the channel is to break the clutter through purpose-driven entertainment content.

The channel will have a five-hour programme band daily from 7 pm-midnight. Of this, three hours will be dedicated to bespoke, ground up original programming built on the thesis of an underdog winning. The aim is to not focus on genres per se but to see in which slot a show can cause maximum impact.

So for instance ‘Khan No. 1’ and ‘Comedy High School’ air on the Weekend’. The time at which a show airs depends on its nature. So ‘Man Vs Wild With Sunny Leone’ will air from 11 pm-midnight for instance. ‘Mere Papa Hero Hiralal’ airs at 8 pm on weekdays.

Discovery India senior VP, GM Karan Bajaj noted that the channel’s aim is to entertain at a large scale but also have inspiration at its core. “From the research done, we found that people have the drive to become something in the new India. So we showcase underdog stories that allow you to feel the seed of transformation and inspiration. We are about consumer-led psychographic thinking rather than broadcaster led product thinking.

Discovery Jeet, he said, is targeting a reach of 120 million households.

Baja further noted that Discovery Jeet operates on three pillars- product purpose, distribution everywhere and marketing everywhere so that people cannot miss the channel. “Our aim was to launch the channel with all the components in place from the outset. If the components are not firing together then the GEC will not work,” he stated.

When asked about the fact that three Hindi GECs have failed in the past, he noted that the channel will succeed if it is able to meet the needs of the consumers. “The research that we found is that there is a boom happening the country but people feel that they are not getting a part of it. This is a burning consumer dynamic. We have launched entertainment that I am confident can give homage to that dynamic. As long as you meet a burning consumer need you will find your audience,” he added.

In terms of the tie-up with Netflix, he noted that generally OTT platforms cherry pick content that is available. But in the case of Discovery Jeet even before launch, the OTT players evinced a lot of interest. “Platforms feel that our content can cut through the mass premium divide. We chose Netflix because their philosophy of what is differentiated content is a very good fit with our philosophy. Secondly, they have an excellent global reach. They have the same intent as us which is to be a success over the long term,” he said.

Discovery India, VP head of mass entertainment Sameer Rao noted that the differentiation lies in the fact that the channel offers dramatic, compelling stories of real, relatable characters that are presented in a cinematic, larger than life format. “Discovery Jeet signifies the verve of today’s generation who is optimistic and aspirational in seeking a better future for themselves and their family. It is a representation of the strong emotion of ‘Hai Mumkin’ which is palpable in tier two and three towns across the country.”

He noted that the first aim is getting cinematic storytelling on TV. The focus here goes beyond the budget. It is also about giving the content creators and show producers enough time and space to deliver quality. He gave the example of a Contiloe show which took a year to deliver compared to a situation with another company where the production house had to deliver a show in only 25 days. Everything from lighting, to production design to the actors, is well thought through. Then the second important tenet is having real, relatable characters like Baba Ramdev. The third important tenet is that the show whether it is crime or comedy has to be with the spirit of the underdog winning.

He further clarified that Discovery Jeet is not a male GEC. “It is meant for family viewing. It is a mass-market offering. It is male, female, youth, children.”

At launch the marketing campaign focuses on three tentpole properties ‘Swami Ramdev: Ek Sangarsh’, ‘21 Sarfarosh: Saragarhi 1897’ and ‘Mere Papa Hero Hiralal’. He noted that the idea for the show on Ramdev started a year ago. Initially, it was to be a four-part show on Discovery Channel but the writers after meeting Ramdev had so much material that a decision was taken to make it 85 episodes.

The second show he described as being about one the bravest last stands in military history. The third show while it is fiction is inspired by a true story that came out some months ago about an autorickshaw driver who had to drive with a two-year-old boy on his lap.

Rao further noted that ‘Khan No. 1’ was the first show commissioned by Discovery Jeet. It represents the broadcaster’s effort to do the crime but in a manner that is different what is being seen on other channels. So the focus is on con men and scamsters who see the long arm of the law catching up with them.

Bajaj noted that not all the shows are finite in nature. For instance ‘Anjaan’ is an infinite show. Similarly, ‘Hero Hiralal’ if it works lends itself to an infinite story. Only shows like the one on Ramdev are finite where you cannot just stretch it due to the character’s arc. Finite or infinite is not the barrier. The issue is not to think on the spur of the moment to do something and blindly add to the noise on TV. The harder route that Bajaj has chosen for Discovery Jeet is to showcase content that has a thesis and a purpose to it.

On the advertising front, he said that the channel is taking its time closing deals as the aim is to get the right advertisers on board. “The ad sales strategy is basically premium mass content that will be the right fit for premium mass brands. Discovery Jeet is being sold separately from the other channels. We are not doing group bundling. Discovery Jeet has its own sales team. Most brands want scale but also purpose. We are a very good fit for them.”

Discovery Jeet’s programming line-up includes ‘Swami Ramdev: Ek Sangharsh’, ’21 Sarfarosh: Saragarhi 1897′, ‘Mere Papa Hero Hiralal’, ‘Khan No 1’, ‘Comedy High School’, ‘Gabru: Hip-Hop Ke Shehzaade’, ‘Anjaan: Special Crimes Unit’, ‘Man Vs Wild with Sunny Leone’, and ‘Lucha: Dangal Ke Sultan’.

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