Sravanthi Challapalli

Chennai, Dec. 20

AFTER one year of launch, television channel Discovery Travel & Living is making some strategic changes to gain more mindspace among viewers.

Mr Aditya Tripathi, Vice-President (Lifestyle), Discovery Networks India, told Business Line that from January, the channel would air programmes based on one theme each week from Monday to Friday in the prime time 9-10 p.m. band.

The themes would include great hotels of the world, famous beaches, well-being, food, fashion, romance and the like.

This move will enable the channel to market itself better, improve recall of both brand and programme slots and promote appointment viewing, Mr Tripathi said.

The channel is also introducing Brunch Weekends. This is the 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. time band on Saturday and Sunday, which will feature repeats of the week's best programmes, Mr Tripathi said.

The target audience is one that works late and travels frequently during the week so this slot will enable it to catch up on programmes it has missed earlier, he explained.

There are many new programmes in the pipeline, according to Mr Tripathi. One of them is Long Way Round, which has actors Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman travelling from London to New York via Europe, Asia and Canada.

Another is Project Runway in which supermodel Heidi Klum heads a panel of industry hotshots to serve as judges and mentors charged with selecting and guiding 12 budding designers. All the new programmes being introduced in India are not more than six months old, Mr Tripathi said, to a question on the time it took new programmes to air in India.

Discovery Travel is also beginning Indian programming. It has commissioned the first two series and is working on a few more. One series will feature six major cities in India and will let viewers know what they can do in each city, be they residents or tourists. It is scheduled for launch in February/March.

The other is a food programme that will explore the different aspects of Indian food. There will be 3-4 Indian series on air in the second half of the year, Mr Tripathi said.

The channel claims to reach 24 million homes. Mr Tripathi defines its target audience as being in the 18-45 years age group, whose mindset is "upscale Indian" whether they live in the metros, mini-metros or smaller towns.

It is an "aspirational, good-looking, enjoyable, relaxing and fun channel", different from Discovery in that while the latter is all about "real-world entertainment" (science, history and technology), Travel & Living is about making the most of one's free time.

As for advertising, Mr Tripathi said that the channel's advertising is now in the "happy position of being completely sold out for the month."

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 21, 2005)
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