Discovery Science and Turbo focus on pay revenue

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | February 02, 2010
Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific's newly launched channels in India, Discovery Science and Discovery Turbo, are available only on Tata Sky. afaqs! explores the strategy behind this move

Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific's two newly launched channels - Discovery Science and Discovery Turbo, are currently available only on Tata Sky. They will make their presence felt on analogue and digital platforms in another four to five months.

At present, Discovery Science and Discovery Turbo are priced at Rs 12 and Rs 10, respectively. On the analogue front, the two channels will be distributed by Discovery's own distribution platform, OneAlliance, which also distributes Discovery's other three existing channels -- Animal Planet, Discovery Channel and Discovery Travel & Living.

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In a conversation with afaqs!, Rahul Johri, senior vice-president and general manager, India, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific shares Discovery's vision for the two channels, the content on offer, and how niche channels appeal to advertisers.

Commenting on the move to first launch the new offerings only on the DTH platform, Johri says, "We are not a general entertainment channel. Since we are not in the entertainment business, we are not looking at mass reach or nationwide distribution. Our differentiated content is being sampled by the audience on Tata Sky."

Through the digital platform, Discovery is making an attempt to pull in pay revenue through subscriptions. The two channels are part of Tata Sky's Cosmo pack, along with other channels such as NDTV Lumiere and AXN. The pack is priced at Rs 45 per month.

According to Johri, Discovery was in talks with other DTH players as well, but owing to capacity and related issues, decided to go along with Tata Sky, which claims 4.5 million connections.

Discovery Science, targeted at the whole family, focuses on cutting-edge scientific research and discoveries and covers subjects related to the human body, genetics, astronomy and space. The channel's portfolio includes shows such as Master of the Universe: Stephen Hawking and 100 Things that Will Change Your Life.

On the other hand, Discovery Turbo is all about speed and thrill. The content on the channel revolves around cars, boats, bikes, aircraft et al. Discovery Turbo will also focus on motoring events. The channel is skewed towards male audience in the age group of 18+.

Analysing the relevance and scope of the two specialised channels from Discovery's stable, R Gowthaman, leader, Southeast Asia, Mindshare, points out, "Both the channels are focused on a very niche audience, which Discovery believes very much exists. Possibly, this is the only reason why it has rolled out these channels first on the DTH platform. The aim is not to reach out to 100 million or so viewers; but to capture the brand's core TG of say three million or five million."

Discovery is eyeing affluent Indians by showcasing the content that it currently broadcasts on Discovery Science and Discovery Turbo in other parts of the world as well.

According to Johri, as of now, the channels are running ad-free and ad sales will only open up later in the year. Without specifying the kind of brands that the new offerings will attract, Johri says, "The moment the two channels start delivering sizeable quality audience, a wide range of advertisers cutting across age-groups would come into the fold."

The organisation is confident that the content and distribution strategy will work out in its favour. Johri cites the example of Travel & Living in India, which also took at least four months after launch to build up a following.

When it comes to advertisers, Gowthaman feels that the two channels would not be all about 10 second ad-spots and TVCs. Being niche, they would lend themselves better to co-productions and programme sponsorships.

Programming has to be a medium for a meaningful dialogue between the brand and the viewer for appointment-viewing led channels. It will be important for advertisers to ensure that the brand is integral to the content on the two channels.

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