Sangeeta Tanwar

Discovery to roll out three new specialist channels

Discovery will also be available in hi-definition format

Discovery Networks India is in expansion mode. To strengthen its position in the Indian market, it plans to launch three specialised channels in the first quarter of 2009.

The three channels are Discovery Science, Discovery Turbo and Discovery HD. Discovery Networks is 13 years old in India and its first offering to Indian viewers was Discovery in 1995. It added Animal Planet and Travel and Living to its stable in 1998 and 2004, respectively.

Talking about the network’s expansion strategy, Rahul Johri, senior vice-president and general manager, Discovery Networks India, says, “We are a well-established brand with our viewers and advertisers alike. There is continuous research and market analysis to gauge the interest and preferences of the viewers. So, we feel that there is great demand for niche channels in any given genre. The new channels will fulfill the existing curiosity and desire of our TG (target audience) to know more about the specific genres of science and technology.”

Discovery to roll out three new specialist channels
Rahul Johri
Johri brushes away the view that the launch plans are a reaction to its competitor, National Geographic Channel Network's recent announcement of introducing four specialised channels in the near future. Johri reasons, “Discovery, in 13 years, has brought out three channels. So, it is but natural to plan ahead and offer finer content to our loyal viewers, expanding our reach. Also, there exists demand for more content on specific genres, as players in this category are few and far between. The problem of plenty is only in the news and entertainment category, where if logos are taken off, the content on all the platforms appears similar.”

At the same time, niche channels help in offering finer content to a specified TG. This also assures advertisers of the availability of the exact desired profile of consumers.

Talking about the content and programming of the new channels, Johri shares with afaqs! that Discovery, as a worldwide brand, has a common inventory of programmes. Depending upon the region, the promoters in different countries select and zero down on genres or shows that are closer to the audience in each country. Considering that India as a country is high on the world map, almost all the big series on the Discovery network have reference to the country.

Moreover, constant efforts are made to offer more contemporary and relevant content for the Indian market. In its bid to reach out to a larger number of viewers, Discovery had introduced Hindi feed for Animal Planet. New time bands were also introduced in an attempt to attract a steady and committed viewership.

The three channels will provide viewers with high-quality, credible and entertaining programmes. Discovery Science will unravel the mysteries of technology and analyse its impact on our day-to-day life. It will cover subjects such as astronomy, space, medical research, genetics and the human body. Some of the shows will be Coolest Science Museum, Tank on the Moon and Medical Mavericks. Discovery Turbo is all about the motorised and mechanised world of machines, ranging from cars, trucks, motorcycles and mopeds to planes. The channel will also cover profiles of celebrity motorists and bike and car shows.

All the new channels will be pay channels. One Alliance, a joint venture between Discovery Networks India and Sony Entertainment Television will be responsible for the distribution of these three channels. Johri points out that the emergence of DTH (direct to home), CAS (conditional access system), IPTV (internet protocol TV) and digitisation are pushing existing players to upgrade the viewers to the new technologies. Discovery HD (high definition) will provide viewers an out-of-the-world viewing experience, as the technology offers programming in 1080i, the highest visual quality with 5.1 surround sound. Discovery HD is already available in other South Asian countries such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

Discovery, as a brand, is present in 170 countries in 35 languages. It claims to have a subscriber base of 1.5 million across the world, with a cumulative viewership of 86 million. Johri is confident of hitting bull's-eye with the new launches. He concludes, “We got it right in 2004 by rolling out Travel and Living, the lifestyle channel, capitalising and cashing on the consumerist wave in India. Leveraging our presence as a global media brand this time too, we will hit the right chord with our viewers and advertisers.”