Discovery travel-lifestyle channel to launch in October

NEW DELHI: Discovery Networks India today announced that it would launch Discovery Travel and Living -- as reported by earlier -- a new channel aimed at upper and upper-middle class audience in October.

India would be the first country where the idea of Discovery's lifestyle portfolio would be incubated for replication in other global markets in 2005.

Today's announcement is part of a series of other similar channel launches as outlined by Dawn L. McCall, president of Discovery Networks International, in June when he had told international media, "We saw a real opportunity in the market. A lot of people have been dabbling in (lifestyle); no one has been really willing to commit the dollars necessary to really build this segment of the business."According to McCall, "India, with its growing and dynamic TV market and emerging middle-class, is the right place to begin Discovery Networks' new lifestyle endeavour."

On cue, Discovery India's executive vice-president and MD Deepak Shourie today told journalists, "I think the time in India has come for this type of a channel." He also added that the company hopes to "create a set of channels to take documentary (making) and non-fiction to new heights."

The other two channels, to be formed from existing networks Discovery Travel & Adventure, Discovery H & L and Discovery Health, may be launched in India later, but Shourie did not offer any other detail. As a natural progression, some programmes that are now seen on Discovery Channel in India would migrate to the new channel.

Discovery Travel and Living will be distributed in India by One Alliance. Shourie, however, did not divulge the price of this proposed pay channel.

The company expects the channel to provide a new and unique platform for advertisers by targeting a discerning audience comprising upscale and young adults with active interests in the age group of 18-45. It is also likely to expands Discovery's ability to attract new audiences and advertisers who have traditionally not advertised on Discovery (high-end watch companies like Tag Heur) as traditionally lifestyle advertising has been in print due 

to lack of focused TV platforms, Discovery India executives claimed.

How has the Indian consumer changed? Making a presentation today, Discovery India said consumption no longer is just a function of income as there are 10 million credit card holders; disposable income has risen by over 270 per cent since 1990; dual income families are now a widespread urban phenomenon and there is a fundamental shift in consumption patterns of the Indian consumer.

"Despite the rapid growth of television industry in India, advertising spends on lifestyle brands have traditionally been restricted to the print medium," Shourie said, adding, "Discovery Travel and Living will provide advertisers with a dynamic media vehicle to reach a well targeted and defined viewership profile."

Some more figures to validate why Discovery Travel and Living is making its international debut in India:

In the 1990s, organised retail added 1 mn sq feet space per year.

In 2003, 10 mn sq ft was added, while in 2004-05, about 40 mn sq ft is expected to be added. According to Shourie, when his colleagues from the parent company came to India, they were taken to Gurgaon, on the outskirts of Delhi, where a mall mania is sweeping the region. "Seeing the place and the growth, they were convinced that Discovery Travel and Living should debut in India first," Shourie said as an aside.

The new channel is targeted at upscale urban households across the country (18-20 million households by October, said Shourie) with a cosmopolitan outlook. The treatment of the channel and its programming would be aspirational, glamorous and smart.

The programming genres will include travel, health & well-being, food & cuisine, automotive & motoring, home design & décor, hobbies and outdoor leisure. "Local (Indian) programming would be introduced in 2005, which would be acquired," Shourie added.

Some of the programmes that are likely to be seen on the new channel include Celebrity Travelogues, Globetrekker, Floyd's India, Cooking for Love (a blind date show blended with cookery), Date Patrol, Biker Build-Off, He's Gotta Have It, Great Vacation Homes, Superhomes, Other Peoples' Homes, While You Were Out, The Chris Lowell Show, Tim Brooke-Taylor's Golf Clubs and World Poker Tour.

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