Specialised channels: The growing flavour of entertainment
Rahul Johri Senior Vice President & General Manager - South Asia Discovery Networks Asia Pacific
(8 January 2013)
The Indian television industry is poised for a dramatic transformation. 2012 saw significant changes in almost every aspect--increase in channel offerings, high-decibel launches, variety in content, innovative programming formats, renewed interest in the regional market and a range of speciality channels being launched.
At the same time, delivery technologies have been upgraded, demanding a review of broadcasters’ growth strategies. The defining event for the industry, undoubtedly, was the roll-out of digitisation process in the four metros. Six years ago there was no DTH. Today, DTH and digital cable are transforming the television viewing experience for thousands of Indian households.
Digitisation will continue to be the game changer for the Indian television industry in 2013 as well, when it expands into 38 more cities in the second phase and beyond. Viewers will not be restricted for choice of content because of capacity constraints in analogue cable. Digital delivery, while providing superior broadcast quality to viewers, will highlight the real value of media brands and their unique offerings.
Discovery‘s gains in digitisation
The growing footprint of digitisation is important for Discovery Networks. It gives us the opportunity to offer viewers a complete spectrum of our channels, a wide variety of quality content and the highest possible viewing experience. It is one of the reasons for us expanding our portfolio to eight channels and adding multiple language feeds across brands.
Our unmatched and robust bouquet of unique content channels--Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery Kids, Discovery Science, Discovery Turbo, Discovery HD World, and Discovery Tamil—enjoys immense brand equity and continues to delight viewers with its sheer range of programming.
Our programmes probe myriad mysteries, explore countries, people and cultures, celebrate scientific, engineering and medical breakthroughs from around the world and delve into thought-provoking subjects to gain insights into some of the most fascinating subjects. We have been the market leader in introducing unique channels globally and in India such as Factual, Lifestyle, Auto, Wildlife, Science, Animation and High Definition. With the launch of Discovery Science, Discovery Turbo, Discovery HD World, Discovery Channel Tamil, and most recently Discovery Kids, we’ve even pioneered new genres in television programming.
Importantly, the immense affinity to our networks has proven that viewers, when offered choice, will prefer well-defined, entertaining and high-quality content. All these channels have created new and distinct viewer groups. Others in the industry have also responded to this consumer trend by launching multiple channels across categories. In an emerging digital environment, this ability to innovate will be a crucial determinant of value for media brands.
Digitisation to broaden scope of TV viewership
Going forward, digitisation is bound to broaden the scope of television viewership. The growth in television audience population representing varied interests, languages and disparate content preferences has led to audience segmentation. This, in turn, is encouraging broadcasters to launch new and differentiated channels and innovative packaging.
Post digitisation, it will be a different game plan for advertisers to reach their consumers. For advertisers who are continuously looking to reach out to their unique target group, digitisation allows them to customise their delivery according to content platforms, viewer demographics and distribution reach of channels.
The new breed of Indian TV viewers seeks programmes dealing with information and experiences that have a direct bearing on their lives and lifestyle. They want insights into the world that they live, work and travel in just as much as they crave to see themselves through global points of view. Evidently, no single channel can hope to be a one-stop shop for entertainment anymore. Only those channels that have a distinct proposition will thrive in this new order, and emerge as the most-preferred destinations for viewers, advertisers and affiliates alike.
Once digitisation is complete, we will enter into a pay-per-use scenario where television viewers can choose from among multiple options of specialised content according to their preferences. We foresaw this trend much ahead of others, and launched TLC in 2004, as we believed DTH will be a significant step in empowering viewers to demand content of their choice. The success of TLC fuelled our decision to launch more specialised channels like Discovery Science and Discovery Turbo. Our high-definition offering, Discovery HD World continues to woo viewers and the trade alike with its breathtaking content. Discovery Kids, our latest and 8th network offering, has already ignited the imagination of millions of kids across India.
We believe that the pay-TV model will be dominant for years to come and will change the television landscape for everyone’s benefit.