We have seen a three-fold increase in our branded content offering since the pandemic; it is now contributing around 25-30% to our overall revenue: Shaun Nanjappa Chendira, Discovery Inc
Shaun Nanjappa Chendira, Head of Advertising, Sales, South Asia, Discovery Inc Discovery
Shaun Nanjappa Chendira of Discovery talks about the strategies that have worked in the network's favor during the pand...
media

We have seen a three-fold increase in our branded content offering since the pandemic; it is now contributing around 25-30% to our overall revenue: Shaun Nanjappa Chendira, Discovery Inc

Shaun Nanjappa Chendira of Discovery talks about the strategies that have worked in the network's favor during the pand...
  • Discovery Inc has been focusing on strengthening its branded content offering to give advertisers high impact content that can help them not just gain visibility but also build a connect with consumers.
  • Since the pandemic, its branded content offering has increased three-fold, and even going ahead, it is going to be an important strategy for the network’s growth, Shaun Nanjappa Chendira, Head of Advertising, Sales, South Asia, Discovery Inc tells us.
The pandemic and the ensuing lockdown led to people being stuck at home, which led to an obvious spike in Television consumption. According to BARC data from earlier this year, TV consumption by Indians increased by 9% to 999 billion weekly viewing minutes, all thanks to the pandemic.

With people spending more time with their families, they were also on the lookout for content that could be consumed together. The infotainment segment gained on this trend.

Infotainment channel Discovery, while impacted in the initial phase of the pandemic, has succeeded in building on its offerings, and modifying it to help benefit both the advertisers and consumers.

Over the past year, Discovery has doubled down on its branded content offerings and has seen impressive growth. In fact, their branded content projects have grown threefold since the pre-pandemic era.

Discovery’s bounce-back strategy: Branded content

The pandemic led to a huge dip in advertising, but it also gave players like Discovery the chance to work closely with advertisers and study the pulse of the country and then come up with content strategies that would benefit both the advertiser and the viewers.

“The singular challenge the entire industry faced was the slowdown in advertising sales. Between April and June last year, advertising spends had slowed down to a trickle. But as a network, we have always prided ourselves in working very closely with our clients and that has helped us bounce back very fast. Our focus on particular sectors like FMCG, Auto, Telecom, Handsets and two wheelers helped us. We were observing the pulse of the country and spotted the revenge buying trend pretty early on which also became a discussion point with a lot of our clients and that resulted in advertising spends on branded content,” shared Shaun Nanjappa Chendira, Head of Advertising, Sales, South Asia, Discovery Inc.

With the lockdown opening up, there was an appetite for high-impact formats and advertisers were on the lookout for such properties. “We saw even traditional FMCG players, who never invested on cricket, buy into properties like IPL. So we spotted an opportunity and at this time, one of our most successful properties, Into the Wild came handy. We did an episode with Akshay Kumar and the show helped us scale back and drive advertising revenues considerably. What is very unique about this particular format is that it has always helped us grow our advertising base. So we ended up getting about five or six new clients on board from very diverse categories,” added Chendira.

The network has so far worked on properties like Oppo Life Unscene and BYJU's Discovery School Super League. . On whether branded content will continue to be an important area of focus Chendira said, “Absolutely. Marketers are on the lookout for solutions that not just give them high visibility but an emotional connect and engagement with their audience. And branded content helps there.”

Discovery had been growing its branded content offering even before the pandemic but the process just got hastened due to the impact of the pandemic. “Today, we’re doing far more branded content than we were doing earlier. Between 2019 and now, we've probably grown the number of brand content projects three folds,” he shared.

Chendira also shared that currently, close to 25-30% of their overall revenue is coming from branded content.

Larger content strategy

There has also been a shift in consumer preferences in the past few years with people consuming more and more content about India. Taking into account this trend, Discovery has increased its focus on local original production.

In the last one year, it has launched shows like Star vs Food, ‘Secrets of Sinauli: Discovery of the Century, Mission Frontline and Ladakh Warriors, among others.

Talking about their content strategy, and whether their offering will be more India-focused, Chendira said, “There will be certainly be more focus on India but we will continue to have a steady mix of content because we don't want to isolate our audiences from what happens globally. A lot of our international formats are being adapted for India and there will be quite a bit of such content in the coming months.”

Normalization of business

Despite the pandemic still being a part of our lives, there has been a normalization in business. Advertisers are coming back and are open to spending on TV.

The network had launched its OTT offering Discovery+ right before the lockdown and Chendira said that has also helped it strengthen its offering to advertisers. “During the pandemic, there was also a movement towards digital advertising and that was the time that we actually pivoted and started pushing our OTT platform very aggressively. What evolved out of that was a hybrid model where we were offering our clients linear as well as digital solutions, bundled as one and that has helped us,” he explained.

The festive season every year sees increased spends. So what are his expectations from the festive months this year? “There has already been a normalization of business. We are pretty gung ho about the festive season this year, and so is the marketing community. So we are lining up quite a few of our large IPs closer to the festive season. We do anticipate that a lot of categories will open up. We expect categories like FMCG, two wheelers and smartphones to spend. So we are quite optimistic,” he added.