Television

DSport, Discovery's expansion into under-served areas beyond factual

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MUMBAI: After dividing its offering into two verticals- female & family entertainment product and real world entertainment product- Discovery Networks has now entered the sports genre with its latest offering. Priced at Rs 12.6 on reference interconnect offer (RIO), and Rs 32 for the  high-definition version, DSport provides access to unmatched live sporting action from around the world. With an aim to provide 4000+ hours of live content annually, DSport will air international sports properties ranging from horse racing to football, motorsports, rugby and cycling. Targeted at the passionate community of sports lovers, the channel will offer a daily dose of 10+ hours of live content for viewers across the country.

The channel went live on 6 February and reached about 35 million households.

In this fast evolving digital space where more and more digital platforms are providing live coverage of several sports events, Discovery Networks, in the current scenario, does not see owning a digital platform as the best profitable business in India. Though, it is entering the digital space with its remarkable IPs which they are licensing across multiple digital Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms.

“The only thing we are not entering right now as is our own platform because I don’t think the economics of it are suitable for every broadcaster. Going on hypothesis, I think that owning a digital platform might not be the best profitable business in India because the consumer acquisition cost is very high and the retention rates of the platforms are very low. It’s the easiest thing to launch a technological platform with content offering but acquiring people to sign in on the platform is a high end cost. 80 per cent of the subscribers are out of the platform in a month. They have no stickiness to the platform. So, we will create remarkable IPs like we have for sports and then decide whether to sign exclusive deals with the existing platforms or to distribute it across a range of digital platforms. Whatever makes the best financial sense. Our push for digital is very aggressive,” said Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific senior vice president and general manager Karan Bajaj.

He further added, “I think that we should possess content that is so remarkable that every network wants to own it, which is much more profitable business rather than owning your own platform. We are acquiring linear and digital rights for every property. We are creating digital brands with digital native players which we will be licensing through multiple platforms. My objective is to serve the digital consumers; the consumers who are looking at things digitally. And launching a digital platform is subscale for us.”

Former MD of ESPN Star and former CEO of Dish TV India R.C. Venkateish will be working closely with DSport especially in areas related to content acquisition for the channel.

The channel will be a part of the sports tier via a subscription model on both DTH and cable in both HD and SD. It has already partnered with Hathway and bunch of other cable platforms and are in talks with several DTH players. “The channel will be distributed in the same way as our other channels,” added Bajaj.  

Bajaj also opined that the channel has received very strong response from the advertisers. In its initial phase, the channel does not plan to have any advertisements to hit the scale and distribution for a lucrative business of its advertisers.  

The network is marketing the channel thoughtfully. It is promoting the channel community wise rather than massively. “It is best to target specific communities to market the channel rather than doing one or two big promotional activities,” added Bajaj.  

DSport redefines sports coverage in India with a wide repertoire of exciting properties from across the world of sports. These will initially include:

·  Horse Racing: exclusive rights to telecast daily live racing from the best of UK and Irish tracks totaling over 7000 races/ year

·  Football: Brazilian League, Chinese Super League, Portuguese League, Major League Soccer (USA)

·  Golf: British Open (The Open Championship), US Open, PGA Championship, LPGA

·  Motorsports: NASCAR, FIA World Rallycross Championship

·  Rugby: 6 Nations Rugby

· Cycling: Tour de France (a property of Eurosport)

DSport is in advanced negotiations for selected high quality cricket events to add to the above-mentioned portfolio.

The other channels of the network, Discovery, Science, Turbo, Animal Planet, TLC, ID, Kids, will perceive a complete change in its look and feel starting with Discovery channel by June end followed by the rest. It plans to have 200 hours of original localized content not limited to infotainment but diversifying into other genres like crime, adventure, automation, etc. The key focus, apart from localisation and number of hours, will be on the nature of storytelling.

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