Discovery is right in the middle of one of the most exciting times for the industry and we are glad to be playing a critical role in its transformation
By Megha Tata, Managing Director, South Asia, Discovery Communications India
The M&E landscape has witnessed a massive change over the past couple of years. With the onset of OTT, we are currently witnessing this world shift from mere survival mode of the past to innovation & transformation for the future. And the video entertainment space is only going to expand aggressively in the coming year. In fact, the industry is expected to transition from one in four Indians having watched online videos at least once in the last one month (OTT Audience Report, May-July 2021) in 2021, to one in four broadband subscribers paying for online entertainment and sports content by 2026 (Media Partners Asia, 2021). The revenue for the industry is also projected to come from the growth of online video market driven by young demography, diversified technologies for delivery as well as access to content, maybe even aggregation of OTT and more. While all of these undercurrents will continue to facelift the industry, there are immediate trends that would define the coming year:
Differentiated content will be the name of the game: Even before OTT could meaningfully take off, the space was already cluttered with multiple players vying for digital viewing time. Now, getting the right combination of content and pricing would separate the more successful players from the rest of the crowd. However, the streaming catalogues of some of the mainstream players have started to look alike – a malady that the TV channels have also been suffering from. In the midst of this, offering differentiated content will not only help players carve out a niche for themselves but will also offer incredible value to the paid online users. For us at Discovery, it’s important for our viewers to get the flavour of our brand’s authenticity whenever and wherever they interact with our content. That’s one reason we see less churn than our peers as we don’t believe in riding on the success of one hit show but offer a depth and scale of differentiated programming that inspires, informs and entertains our community. And this will continue to remain our focus.
Immersive UX through Emerging tech: As viewing appetites of consumers get addressed, OTT players will soon start needing a lot more to retain them. Immersive experiences like AR and VR will then become the next big wave of disruption where technology will evolve from being a content delivery system to offer an experiential destination. And the adoption of these will only get bolstered by the onset of 5G that would enable some content creators to offer an edge over others.
From emergence (Digital) to convergence (Linear + Digital): This year we saw a playbook of sorts emerging that experimented with digital and TV partnering together. In 2022, this relationship is set to evolve into a more structured coupling of the two mediums as an answer to addressing increasingly fragmented audiences and advertising. Within our own network, we are not just looking at the growth of these two mediums individually but also creating a symbiotic hybrid model that will unleash the potential of their merger for the benefit of both our viewers as well brands. For instance, there’s already a lot of integration work that’s happening between the linear and digital versions of D Kids which creates a thriving ecosystem for creators, writers, animators and/or producers. While most of the success of the kids genre has occurred on the back of linear, digital will further help us amplify the growing segment to achieve bigger scale and reach. And that’s what we will continue to work towards at Discovery across genres and channels.
SVOD and AVOD fuelling OTT growth: The OTT market is projected to fetch $4.5 billion revenue by 2026, according to the Media Partners Asia’s latest report. The ad-supported video-on-demand continues to grow in popularity especially in the rural parts of the country as they experiment with shorter and snackable formats. The segment will also remain a big driver for revenues for the industry for many years to come. While consumers enjoy watching content for free with ads, this also presents an attractive opportunity for them to adopt their mindset to paid subscriptions for better content and that’s what we will see happening more rapidly than ever. By 2026, India is projected to have over 200 million SVOD subscriptions (MPA).
We will continue to play in the growing SVOD space with discovery+ clearly positioned to offer complementary proposition to our consumers’ entertainment needs.
Hybrid Work Culture as the new norm: According to NASSCOM, 70% of companies are now looking at adopting some form of hybrid working model. Next year, we will see this space evolve to integrate the best of both worlds – wherein some employees may return to offices, some opting for a few days a week and others may continue to work remotely. At Discovery, we are adopting 3:2 ratio where employees come to work 3 days a week and work twice a week from home.
From Discovery’s perspective, we couldn’t be happier with the timing of discovery+ launch and how it’s fit into our business as well as the overall OTT ecosystem. We are excited to enter 2022 on a high note, ready to adopt and leverage the trends and opportunities that this transformation has been bringing along. We are right in the middle of one of the most exciting times for the industry and we are glad to be playing a critical role in its transformation.