Discovery to dub foreign content as Hindi GEC channel doesn't stir viewers

By Surajeet Das Gupta , Business Standard, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | May 08, 2018
Its kids channel, a laggard in the genre for years, hit No 2 rank last week, just behind Nickelodeon.

Discovery Communications' foray into the crowded Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC) genre with Jeet has not found resonance with the viewers, impelling them to rejig their strategy.

But its kids channel, which has been a laggard in the genre for years, hit the number two rank in terms of viewership last week, just behind Nickelodeon.

With low ratings for the GEC channel launched in February 12 this year, the broadcaster has now decided to rejig its programming and offer viewers dubbed Hindi versions of entertainment programmes and serials which the US company has acquired from Scripps, which is known for its lifestyle, food and entertainment content.

Various episodes of its current programming, which includes one on the much publicised life of Baba Ramdev, will run their course till June after which the new offerings will be launched. Programmes like the Sunny Leone's Man vs Wild, which were supposed to be launched in the second phase of Jeet's launch now will not be aired. Industry says that the broadcaster had invested over Rs 2.5 billion -- one of the highest ever for the company in the country -- for the channel to take off.

In a candid interview with Karan Bajaj, senior vice-president and general manager-South Asia of Discovery Communications India, admitted that it will be rejigging the channel: "Yes it did not resonate with the audience. The pilot response was good, but I think we did not get the perfect combination between marketing, distribution and content."

He said they are now looking through over 10,000 hours of content with Scripps to identify what is relevant for India, which they can air with dubbing in Hindi and later on in other languages--the focus clearly will remain general entertainment.

Bajaj pointed out that they wanted to create a differentiated GEC channel based on real life stories and were never looking at hitting 150 GRPs and competing with the big boys. "We created a differentiated content and not competing with the big channels. We would have been happy if we would have got 40 GRPs but that did not happen" said Bajaj.

But Discovery has some good news. Its kids channel, Discovery Kids, has hit the jackpot, becoming the second most watched channel after struggling at the ninth or tenth spot for many months.

Bajaj says Discovery changed its strategy for the kids genre by betting on one big programme instead of offering too many choices. As a result Little Singham, a daily show, was launched in April and is repeated throughout the day. "We realised that kids like repetition, so we tied up with Reliance Animation to create 156 episodes of this serial and five tele features (movies) in one go. It is a contrarian strategy but it has worked," says Bajaj. The episode is shown for 40 per cent of the total time in the channel schedule and constitutes 60 per cent of the viewership.

Discovery India continues to be the leader in the infotainment genre controlling over 49 per cent market share, with its channels Discovery, Animal Planet and TLC ranked among the first two in their genres.

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