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We produced a majority of original content in a challenging 2020: Discovery India MD

Ayushi Kar Mumbai June 7 | Updated on June 07, 2021

Megha Tata, Managing Director - South Asia, Discovery Inc

Megha Tata shares with BusinessLine the strategies adopted by the company to steer through Covid times

Amid the plethora of TV and video streaming options, Discovery has been able to get a share of the Indian market with its factual entertainment content. While Discovery already has a number of well-entrenched linear TV channels, it entered the OTT space last year with Discovery Plus. Megha Tata, Managing Director - South Asia, Discovery Inc, spoke to BusinessLine about how the company steered through the pandemic, strategy for original content and the uptake of the OTT platform. Excerpts:

How has the pandemic impacted your plans and viewership?

Very early on we realised that this pandemic is something that will stay on for a while. So we accepted this as the new normal and worked around it. The challenge was to manage and sustain the linear business. The linear business for Discovery suffered with a major revenue impact, with a 70-80 per cent decline during that quarter. That, however, did not deter us from our belief that discovery+ is a product that will succeed in the market, given the need gap that is present in the content consumption habits in India.

We tried to balance the linear business with the launch of discovery+, keeping in mind that linear is where most of the money is, and it helped fund our discovery+ projects. For our linear business we started growing back again after the first lockdown, showing a positive trajectory of growth.

We enjoy a 50 per cent odd share in the linear infotainment genre, with 270+ million Discovery Network during the month of April. D Kids is enjoying a major boost. D-Tamil grew by 94 per cent in comparison to the same time during the previous year. While there were production challenges, in the 25 years of Discovery being in India, it is during 2020 that we have produced the majority of our original content and that is a mammoth task in itself.

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What lessons have you learnt from the original content you have launched in the past year?

We are still exploring the type of original content that will work well in India. However, we did take inputs regarding what would work for Indian audiences and hence the shows we launched really resonated well with them. This firmed up our belief that these are the kind of shows we should be doing. One of the interesting insights was that, traditionally, women are not as major an audience as men for Discovery. With our show, Star Vs Food, we brought more women audiences to our platform. This made us believe that we can create more content to cater to this audience.

After completing one year in the Indian OTT space, how has discovery+ performed so far?

India was the first market where discovery+ was launched, and it was a great success story across the globe. We had a subscriber base of 5 million early last year which has grown to 12 million now, globally. This will be a number that will grow exponentially as we launch in other markets.

Are you partnering with other big names, whose content enjoys significant viewership in India to gain a major foothold in the OTT space?

Our partnership with American broadcasting company A+E Network is exactly that. With this partnership we are bringing key acquisitions such as “Hell’s Kitchen” with Gordon Ramsay, motoring series such as “Top Gear America” and “2021 FIM MotorGP World Championships”. Discovery+ will be expanding its library even further with the acquisition of global and local titles from the A+E Networks’ (including from History TV18) library. From top-rated reality TV series like ‘Pawn Stars’ based on a family-owned pawn shop to America’s favourite treasure hunters, ‘Storage Wars’ to ‘OMG! Yeh Mera India’, the longest-running and most successful HistoryTV18 franchise hosted by Krushna Abhishek and ‘Kumbh’ based on a famous religious festival amongst other enthralling titles, users will have world-class content available at their fingertips.

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What distinct strategy are you employing to compete with OTT players like Netflx, Disney, Amazon, that already enjoy a major foothold in the Indian market?

It has been an incredible journey since the launch of discovery plus in a very crowded OTT market. One of the key areas of distinction we brought into the table was the content proposition; thus, while players are fighting the fiction war we want to offer something complementary that can be watched with any of your preferred OTT players. There also came the decision to create the platform that provides content across various genres which makes for a good wholesome family viewing experience. So the key areas that we are focusing on are fun, facts and family content that is going to be on the platform.

Published on June 07, 2021

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