We are trending well above the median time spent by video viewers in India amongst all apps: Issac John, Discovery
Issac John, Business Head- Digital (South Asia), DiscoveryDiscovery
Discovery Plus launched with a proposition of being the only streaming platform to offer non-scripted real life enterta...

We are trending well above the median time spent by video viewers in India amongst all apps: Issac John, Discovery

Discovery Plus launched with a proposition of being the only streaming platform to offer non-scripted real life enterta...
  • Its been over three months since Discovery Plus launched in India.
  • We speak to Issac John, Business Head- Digital (South Asia), Discovery who talks to us about how things have been since the launch of the platform, and what lies in store.
The Covid-19 induced lockdown has come as a blessing in disguise for the OTT industry that witnessed a huge surge in terms of new users and time spent on their platforms. With more time on people’s hands as they were stuck at home, people did not only start spending more time on these platforms but also experimenting with the kind of content they were watching..

During this time, something that everyone was looking for was content that they could consume with their families. That is exactly where Discovery’s OTT platform Discovery Plus came to play. Its been three months since the platform was launched and owing to the differentiated content it has been providing, it has seen a good reception among the audience. Meanwhile, to make it more easily accessible and to help people watch the content no TV, the platform was also made available on Amazon Fire TV.

We recently caught up with Issac John, Business Head- Digital (South Asia), Discovery to understand how the past few months have been for Discovery Plus has been, what kind of uptake they’re witnessing and what lies in store.


Q) It’s been over 3 months since the launch of Discovery Plus. How has it been so far? What kind of reception have you seen so far?
We launched with a proposition of being the only streaming platform to offer non-scripted real life entertainment which is premium and clearly accessible to people at scale in a big way. What we hoped for was that consumers perceive the USP and adopt us; and the first few signs that we have had in these last few months is that the consumer is clearly seeing Discovery Plus as a differentiated product compared to anything else. There are 2-3 lead indicators for that: One is the pace of adoption and our ratings on app store. Second is, the qualitative reviews that the consumers have told us when they evaluate a product like this. Reviews, essentially, by themselves are very much in the space of saying that this is real. They are saying things like ‘I can actually sit down with my kid during lockdown and watch this content’, or that this is an app that is inspirational and educational. So there have been a lot of positive reviews we have received from our consumers. This gives us the confidence that the differentiation of our product is established within the minds of the consumer.

Q) With the app's launch on Amazon Fire TV, you've also launched a campaign. Tell us a bit about that, and how you are reaching out to people amidst the lockdown?
Given that we had a differentiated product, we were keen that our value proposition stands out. That’s where Taproot helped us crack a great insight that if you watch interesting, you can truly stand out in a crowd. If you look at a lot of the communication of other players, you will see that every OTT almost always markets an IP. Whereas we in the market are actually saying ‘Agar aap interesting dekhoge toh interesting sochoge’. This is what has come through with our commercial that just concluded.We aimed to reach out to the aspiring Indian who looks to move up in life and showcase how Discovery plus help him win the big moments of life. The insight was that people are looking for things that help them stand apart in the crowd, that help them stand apart while they have a big moment in their life like kid’s admission, job interview or when they need to have a discussion with their boss. So, those are some of the things that we have narrowed down and we picked up a specific situation of the job interview and how this guy, because he knows the specific thing about the globe because he watched Discovery show, is able to go ahead and win that big moment in his life.

Q) What kind of time spends have you seen on the app, and what kind of increase have you been witnessing?
We are trending well above the median time spent by video viewers in India amongst all apps. Besides, our time spent on Fire TV is 2.4 times that of what we have on mobile. I think what ends up happening is that, when you consume content as premium and as well-produced as Discovery, your immersionin the viewing experience content goes up significantly on the big screen. That’s a clear sign of how consumers love us on the big screen and especially this particular metric was interesting for us.

Q) There is a huge appetite for fresh content right now, which also gives rise to a lot of competition. How are you ensuring consumer stickiness to your platform?
As a part of our retention strategy, one way is to ensure that consumers have enough choice pertaining to that specific interest they came in for. Typically, today consumers come in for a show or a brand. We ensure that month on month we have significant breadth across the specific verticals that they are coming in for. For example, if they come in for Project Runway this week, we ensure that we have enough width to cater to that taste cluster of consumers.

Q) Are there any interesting trends you've observed since your launch, in terms of consumer demographics or geographies? Is most of your audience base in Tier I Tier II cities or are smaller cities watching your content too?
Discovery is India’s leading and most trusted infotainment brand. The trust that consumers have in Discovery cuts across boundaries and that gives us an inherent advantage. The split between Tier 1 and Tier 2 city is pretty even at 55:45. We see a male skew in our consumption and the other interesting thing we see is that our audience has got pretty good purchasing power affinity. For example, we know at least 3 out of every 4 of our users are regular online shoppers.

Q) Since you launched right before the lockdown started, do you think it gave you a sort of advantage, as people were hungry for content and also open to experiment?
Hindsight, I think yes. But it is hard to say a conclusive yes as I don’t have any pre-lockdown data. All I can say is that our subscriptions are well ahead of what we had estimated. There has been a lot of consumer love that has come our way in terms of subscriptions. What shines through is that if a product is differentiated and can add value to a consumers life, the users do not shy away from subscribing.

Q) What more can we expect from Discovery Plus in the next few months to come?
Currently, we will continue to build on the FireTV partnership. Secondly, we are also working to make the Android TV app launch pretty significant. And then, we have conversations going with a lot of significant partners in the ecosystem and by next quarter we will be in a position to announce some of these as well.

There is something very interesting that is coming through. We are launching number of very premium BBC titles on our app thereby strengthening our content slate even further.

Discovery Plus already offers differentiated content from across Discovery channels including Discovery, Animal Planet, Discovery Science, MotorTrend, HGTV, TLC etc. We will be strengthening this slate even further with premium content coming from BBC – thereby enabling our learning vector to become even more stronger. In addition, we will continue to build on the passion verticals such as Auto, Fashion and Lifestyle and Home and Garden. Starting July 01, for example, we just added season 8 of Project Runway.

Q) Your content also has a huge appeal to the younger audience. How are you reaching out to that set of audience?
As a platform, while we have a traditional base of Discovery fans and loyalists we also have young adults and passionate fans who find great value in subscribing to some of the premium Science and Lifestyle shows we have e.g. We have found performance marketing to be the most valuable tool in finding these audiences based on interests and demographics.

Q) During the lockdown, marketing has been all about spending your monies on the place where it gets you the maximum eyeballs. What has this experience taught you about marketing in general?
Well, if anything this lockdown has actually been a win for TV viewership in general and in that a combination of TV+Digital as a media mix has come across as being even more powerful a combination in these times.