By: Yohan P Chawla
Three months after taking charge as the MD of Discovery Communications, South Asia, Megha Tata who was earlier COO of BTVI has got her strategies in place.
In this Leaderspeak, Tata talks about the plans for her “Dream Job” at Discovery Communications and a lot more.
How’s it been at Discovery?
It’s been about two months, actually a little over two months and it’s been an extremely exciting and a superb experience so far. Like I keep saying that it is like a dream job for me.Discovery is something I have,grown up watching, and by watching I say, not only as a consumer but also in the industry, because I think Discovery happened about 25 years ago in India. I have spent almost 28 years in the in the media industry. So Discovery and I have sort of grown together.
It’s an absolute honor and privilege to be part of an organization and a global brand like Discovery, which has not only Discovery but so many other beautiful brands in the market with Animal Planet, TLC, Discovery Kids etc. I’m super excited to be leading an absolutely brilliant team.
My leadership team is fantastic. I’m really humbled to be a part of an organization which has already done so much, but is at that stage of now moving into the next phase of growth, and I’m really excited to be part of that growth journey.
What did you inherit when you took over your new role at Discovery? What are your specific – 2 to 3 or 5 priorities for Discovery channels?
I have inherited the brand. And not just any brand,but a global brand, which in India, has beenyear on year, awarded as the most trusted brand. So,that’s a lot of weight to carry.
It’s a great recognition that the brand has got. And I have inherited not only Discovery as a brand, but like I said, Animal Planet and TLC and Discovery Kids and so on and so forth. There are so many fabulous brands and a very strong network proposition. The real life entertainment space is what I have inherited.And I think I have already inherited a fantastic team, which I am really grateful for. I’m really looking forward to being part of that, like I said, part of the growth journey.
I spent the last two and a half months, observing and absorbing a lot of things with the team in India and globally and understanding what is happening. And then the leadership team and I, sat together and we worked on a strategy, which we think will be the focus for us in the coming next 12 to 18 months. There is a lot to do but then one needs to prioritize, and we have identified three growth pillars, for us to focus upon.
Real Life Entertainment
First and foremost we want to be an unparalleled leader in the real life entertainment space, we are already leaders, we know that,but we want to create a further distance on leadership when it comes to the real life entertainment space.We know we will be able to deliver through Discovery and Animal Planet. Between the two, we believe, we now have a lot of content andfocus on these two products which can create that leadership distance. How we will do that is through a couple of things.
One of them is obviously bringing back the best of global content from our Global Head offices, which is going back into creating the DNA of what this company stands for. So a lot of that ‘wow’ factor content will be back again. And that’s something which has legs to run in our country as well, and that’s definitely going to be on the cards.
We will also do Indian IPs, which is something we have already been doing, and we will do fewer but bigger ones which have the possibility to run outside of India as well.
The third important thing for us is regional growth. We mean, adding to the language feeds because that’s something we have pioneered in the beginning. We have invested in languages and we already have five languages of Discovery, but we’re going to be adding more and in fact, in the next few months, we’ll be adding three more languages which are Kannada, Malayalam and Marathi. So we will be strengthening our regional play on the back of languages.
Discovery Kids has had a very good play in the market. We are the fastest growing kids channel in the country. And that’s happening especially on the back of Little Singham, which is something which we have invested in, and an IP we’re very proud of. So we intend to increase our investment on animation.
So not only will we double up our content play with Little Singham, but also be adding new IPs as well. So that’s on the cards and we hope and we want to position ourselves to be one of the top three players in the kids business in the coming months and years.
We all know where the audiences are moving, right, so they’re moving to digital. We also need to be there so besides being a strong Pay TV proposition, we want to add to our D2C play.In the D2C offering we want to bring about a proposition which we believe where are uniquely positioned to offer to an audience who is keen to sample content like from the real life entertainment, in the language of their choice, on the platform of their choice, on the time of their choice and in the vertical of their choice. And that is something we believe can bring to the table very strongly.
One of the key reasons we believe that it is a strong proposition is because of the repository of library we have. We have something like 300,000 hours of content across the network globally. And we add 8000 hours in the year.
We are globally serving to what we believe in is to powering people’s passions. We bring passion communities together so if you love adventure you want to come to us, you love food you want to come to us, you love travel you want to come to us and you love sports you want to come to us. And that’s the proposition we believe we are uniquely positioned because what you see out there is scripted content and we are the only players who in the real life non-scripted content space.
We want to be the number one real entertainment OTT service in the country. And that is something we’re hoping be able to launch early next year.
What are your plans for Animal Planet?
Effective 15th of July 2019, we are revamping Animal Planet. This is in alignment to what has happened globally. We have a new logo, a new broadcast design, a new set of shows and we have new faces which we will be supporting through a marketing push. You will very soon see a new Animal Planet.
How has your partnership with Daily Hunt been? What were your learnings from the partnership?
Our partnership with Daily Hunt was a proof of the pudding, that there is an audience out there which is keen to sample content like this. It has been really successful. In less than two months, we got 400 million views, and got 7 million monthly average users. So it’s a great story, and a lot of that content is being consumed through digital play. So that leads to the regionalization strategy and sort of confirms that fact as well.
We intend to launch our own OTT platform where certain content will be behind the pay wall and certain content ahead of the paywall.
How has Dsport been doing?
Dsport is right now in a happy space. It’s doing what it was meant to do. It was never meant to be a very big cricket kind of playing space. So it’s doing what it’s meant to do.
How has the New Tariff Order impacted Discovery channels in India? In terms of reach, placement, subscribers and advertising revenues?
It’s still early days and a lot is happening, a lot of ambiguity work is in progress. I think we have been as impacted as any other broadcaster has. Having said that we think it we could have been worse affected considering we were a niche genre, but two things we think worked in our favor were our content proposition and our brand pull. Discovery had a great pool among the consumers, so they wanted discovery networks.
But what added to make the decision easy was the pricing. So it was very easy for them to take a package of discovery.Our mix of channels offers a great combination for viewers and in fact for the whole family. So that has helped us to be penetrated into a large piece of the universe. While there has been a certain drop in reach pretty much like most of the industry has seen maybe that 15 20% range, but our time spent went up. So clearly this shows the fact that content was been consumed by your audiences because they prefer to watch Discovery. So I think that is a great story because that helped us maintain our rank. We still lead the genre in spite of, you know, a small reach job. And because of that the revenue hasn’t been impacted much. So we’ve had a good growth story as well as good ad revenue.