Consistency, commitment and compassion – these 3Cs would define the pandemic for me. While we continued to adapt core business practices that would yield results on one end, on the other we took cognizance of the paradigm shift in consumption patterns of viewers and explored newer touchpoints to trigger engagement. The increase in the streaming binge propelled us to recognise the gap and curate tailormade offerings that would benefit not only consumers but also partners and advertisers. As a result, despite the slowdown in the industry, Discovery India recorded a double-digit growth and witnessed the digital ad revenues growing by 200% in 2021.
Branded content accounted for a sizeable portion in this growth. Riding on some rewarding partnerships across diverse sectors like edtech, auto, finance, and telecom amongst others, we initiated and successfully executed over 40 projects last year spanning content IPs, content integrations, partnerships, and brand licensing and reinforced our brand promise of family, facts, and fun. Not just Discovery, but Eurosport India, our sports vertical also sprinted upwards reeling in advertisers from an array of categories including Banking, FMCG, Telecom, etc.
Despite the many unknowns during the pandemic, from an entertainment perspective, it triggered an appetite for language content and to satisfy that, Discovery increased its focus on original productions and created high impact formats that Indian viewers could relate to. From India’s Honorable Prime Minister, Narendra Modi to Akshay Kumar and Rajnikanth, special episodes prominent Indian personalities in the ‘Into The Wild with Bear Grylls’ franchise acted as a catalyst in boosting advertising revenues. And our special episodes featuring Ajay Devgn and Vicky Kaushal, further augmented these numbers.
The year 2021 was a year of some interesting firsts. We partnered with the popular brand Yamaha to innovate the viewing experience of MotoGP races on the service. Another successful collaboration that we’re proud of is the second season of Star Vs Food, where we partnered with Korea Tourism for the first time and infused unique campaign elements like Korean dishes, K-pop singers in the episodes to delight the fans of Korean content. Both associations helped the brand script a more emotive connection with their target audiences.
Capitalising on our long-standing partnerships with governments, we produced and showcased over eight projects last year. ‘One District One Product’ – a series of films exhibiting the state's beauty as well as the government's attempts to promote and upscale its local crafts and goods, were a part of our first-ever alliance with the Uttar Pradesh government. The rehabilitation and restoration of Kashi Vishwanath Dham by our present Prime Minister after the 18th century was depicted through Kashi films, while underlining its cultural importance.
Not to forget some of our recurring successes at the grassroot level, with Discovery School Super League, India's largest quiz competition, we marked the 4th renewal of our collaboration with Byju’s in 2021. With over 54000+ schools and 12.85 million youngsters participating, it has emerged as India's largest televised quiz show.
With the constant evolution of our industry, advertisers too are on the lookout for newer avenues and solutions that not only give them a higher ROI but also ones that create a deeper resonance and engagement with audience. And we are committed to expanding our horizons by exploring infinite possibilities whilst curating premium content that offers creative ad and branding experiences. With innovation as our core focus, we continue to redefine more ambitious goals and offerings, to perpetually grow and provide the audiences and clients what they seek ahead.
The author is head of advertising sales, South Asia, Discovery Inc.