Infotainment, kids, digital are three key focus areas for Discovery’s Megha Tata
MUMBAI: After taking charge as Discovery South Asia MD in April, media veteran Megha Tata has firmed up the growth strategy for the company. For Tata, the three key pillars of growth for Discovery are infotainment, kids and digital.
Having burnt its fingers badly in the Hindi entertainment space with Discovery Jeet, the broadcaster has made a retreat and will not look at this space again. Instead, it will focus on what works for it and take that to the next level.
The first focus area is infotainment and the goal will be to grow Discovery and Animal Planet further. The broadcaster will introduce more local feeds for both Discovery and Animal Planet.
With Discovery Channel, the plan is to go back to its original DNA. Animal Planet, meanwhile, will undergo a revamp on 15th July in line with what is happening globally. A Tamil feed will be introduced for the channel. Discovery Channel will see the addition of Marathi, Malayalam, and Kannada feeds thereby bringing its total number of language feeds to eight. There are no plans to have a separate regional language channel like Discovery Tamil.
The second area of focus will be Discovery Kids. The broadcaster will introduce Malayalam and Kannada feeds for the channel. With the launch of two more feeds, the total number of language feeds will go up to six. The broadcaster will also introduce a third local IP for Discovery Kids. The kids channel will also see a clear push towards growing licensing and merchandising revenues.
The third area of focus is digital. As part of its digital push, the company will launch Discovery Plus service next year. The revenue model will be a mix of ad and subscription. The digital platform will look to draw content from Discovery’s various brands.
On the lifestyle front, the plan is to use the strength of the Scripps library to boost TLC’s market presence. For now, Tata is not focusing on Discovery’s long tail channels like Turbo, Science, and DSport as these are more niche plays.
“I spent the last couple of months absorbing and observing what is happening in Discovery not only in India but also globally. I had to understand where we are working towards as an organisation at a global level and then we arrived at the leadership team we have. We decided on our key focus areas in the next 12-18 months. There is always a lot to do as the organisation has so many brands but it is always good to prioritise,” Tata told TelevisionPost.com.
Talking about the three growth pillars mentioned earlier, she said that the game plan for the infotainment business is to grow the leadership distance between Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. The plan aligns with Discovery’s global strategy from a content perspective. She explains that Discovery is going back to the original DNA of what it was.
“We will create more content which is in the adventure space. The aim is to be bolder, bigger and more innovative. Global franchises will come to India. On top of that, we will add lesser but bigger IPs from an India content point of view. Some of the content will have never been seen before. That content will travel to other parts of the world,” she noted.
About Animal Planet, Tata stated that the plan is to align with the global strategy. The channel will change its look and feel. It also aims to attract more family viewers.
“One of the key things that we want to do is make Animal Planet a co-viewing, a family viewing kind of platform. In a single TV home environment, this can play a key role. If a channel can bring everybody together then it is a nice, warm feeling to have. We have also lined up fantastic content.”
She also sees the opportunity to go out there and create passionate animal loving communities. The aim is to have Animal Planet lead conversations with like-minded people.
With respect to the kids genre, Tata is satisfied with the progress Discovery Kids has made. With Discovery Kids, the aim is to be in top three by doubling down investments in local content. “We have had a good play with Discovery Kids. We are the fastest growing kids channel in the country. There is an opportunity to grow this further and we will do that by doubling down on our investment in content, existing IPs and adding a new IP to our portfolio. In the coming three to four years we will be one of the biggest investors in Indian animation. We want to be in the top three.”
She added that this year will also be interesting for Discovery Kids when it comes to L&M and bring in additional revenue growth. The channel has a partnership with Black White Orange and they are having discussions with parties. But advertising will remain the channel’s revenue bedrock.
According to Tata, the third area, that is digital, is an important part of Discovery’s global ecosystem. It is about moving from linear to non-linear. So the D2C play is going to become strong in the company across the world and India will play a role here as well. The broadcaster will launch Discovery Plus service early next year. Discovery Plus is currently available as a video destination on Dailyhunt app.
Tata said that a lot of effort will go towards the content mix, brand proposition, pricing, the user interface and the marketing of the service.
“This is something that we are super excited about. We have 300,000 hours of content and we add 8000 hours of content every year. This makes our content repository very, very rich and the platform will make our content even more effective. Other OTT players work in the scripted space. We work in the unscripted space,” she said.
However, the idea is not to pick up anything and everything and dump it. The service will be created in a manner that it serves what Indian audiences are looking for in the language of their choice. “Languaging will be an integral part of our strategy. We have been a pioneer in that. Discovery has five languages and this will be taken up to eight languages.”
She noted that Dailyhunt is a great platform to test the waters for Discovery Plus, which has already garnered 400 million views. A lot of consumption on Dailyhunt is for short-form content in regional language. “Big players have reached out to partner with us and we are in conversations with many big players”.
On the lifestyle front, she noted that Scripps is a great property in terms of the content lineup which will be used for TLC whether it is from Food Network or travel or HGTV, a home entertainment channel. “We want to pump up the volume of content on TLC through Scripps content.”
As far as DSport is concerned, Tata has expressed satisfaction at how things have played out noting that the aim was not to play in the big sports market. “At the moment it is doing okay and we will see in the coming months what to do with it. It was meant to be a small but profitable channel.”
She noted that Discovery Science and Discovery Turbo are uniquely positioned and are very targeted and niche. They speak to Discovery’s philosophy of building passionate communities. It is about powering people’s passions and are about deep engagements.
Talking about the failure of Discovery Jeet, she noted that it is good to take big swings. This, she points out, is the only way to learn. The only way to know if something works is to try it. That said, the company does not have any plans to again venture into the Hindi entertainment space.
“Sometimes you win sometimes you don’t. That is how we looked at it. It did not work and we moved on. We are doing things that we believe are a better way to find success in the market.”