Discovery launches its first intl lifestyle channel in India

MUMBAI: After weeks of test runs, Discovery Networks India today announced the formal launch of Discovery Travel & Living, India's first 24-hour international lifestyle channel. Aimed at the upper and upper-middle class audiences, the channel also marks the global launch of the company's lifestyle portfolio. After India, the idea of Discovery's lifestyle portfolio would be incubated for replication in other global markets in the coming years.

Inspiring viewers to 'get more out of life', this stylish, premium, niche international lifestyle channel is targeted at savvy viewers with a 'global outlook'.

Speaking on the occasion, Discovery Communications India director marketing Aditya Tripathi said, "With the launch of Discovery Travel & Living we hope to provide the highest quality of 'factual entertainment' for Indians with a global outlook. The treatment of the content will be stylish, smart and aspirational."

Targeted at Indians with high disposable incomes and who 'don't live to work but work to live' (Tripathi's description); the channel hopes to fill a need-gap in terms of enriching their lives. Says Tripathi, "Our market research has revealed that the size of this target audience is 75 million. Our programmes will help this target audience in terms of planning their world tours, cultivating hobbies, planning beach parties and shopping for the latest designer wear, gadgets etc."

To further support their theory, making a presentation on how the Indian consumer has changed today, Discovery officials said that 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.

The channel believes that 'Lifestyle entertainment' is the next big trend and the channel is committed to putting in millions of dollars to develop it. The programming genres will include travel, health and well-being, food and cuisine, automotive and motoring, home design and décor, hobbies and outdoor leisure.

Queried on whether Travel & Living would be adding on Indian programming on board in the coming months, vice-president, programming Pankaj Saxena says, "Indian programming will be introduced in 2005, which would be acquired. But our focus is on the best that the world can offer, so it's not really just India. So, if there are things of that level happening in India those will be covered and those will also be telecast in other countries."

Refusing to divulge further details on the kind of programmes or production houses, Saxena says, "We are in the process of talking to some production houses."

Some of the programmes that are already being 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.

The company expects the channel to provide a new and unique platform for advertisers by targeting an audience comprising upscale and young adults with active interests in the age group of 18-45. It is also likely to expand Discovery's ability to attract new audiences and advertisers who have traditionally been advertising only in the print medium due to a lack of a focused platform. The channel claims that some of the largest advertisers have already signed on.

As of now, Discovery reaches out to 35 million people in India and Discovery Travel & Living hopes to reach a subscriber base of 15-to 17 million people in a year's time. The channel will be distributed in India by One Alliance along with the company's two existing channels, Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. Though the channel will be a pay channel the subscriber price has not been announced for now.

Preeti Vyas Giannetti has bagged the Discovery Travel & Living creative account. A high-decible marketing and promo campaign has been planned a week from now. Though Discovery officials refused to divulge more details of the campaign, it definitely promises to be one of the most high budget campaigns revolving around the punchline 'get a life'.

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