Rahul Johri (L), senior vice president and general manager, South Asia, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific and Narendra Alambara (R), vice president, Starcom Worldwide , Chennai
Do region-specific channels meant for a niche audience hold a significant edge over a national channel dubbed in the regional language? Please elaborate.
RJ: Discovery Channel Tamil is not a niche channel. With its customised product offering especially for the Tamil-speaking viewers, the channel caters to mass audience across genres and age groups. It’s a first of its kind - a factual entertainment channel for the viewers of Tamil Nadu. With customisation becoming the key factor, reaching the specific markets in their own language has become vital. But Discovery Channel Tamil’s programmes are not two Chinese people talking in some foreign language. The programmes are mostly narrative based and the content is locally relevant, bringing for its viewers the best offerings from across the globe.
Does one’s viewership eat into the other’s pie? How can that be dealt with?
RJ: The viewership completely depends on the quality of the content of the network. The viewers are more discerning now for their choice of content on the channels and have preference for more meaningful content. Constantly keeping pace with the changing interests and preferences of our viewers has been the key driver behind the network’s success in India.
NA: They are not really competing with each other in that sense, like I explained earlier. That’s because they operate in different genres.
What kind of impact does introduction of localised content bring to the channel?
RJ: Over the last few years, our brands have evolved progressively acknowledging requirements of our audiences. Discovery’s programmes are locally relevant to everyone in any part of the country. With our India commissioned programmes, we tend to bring for our viewers the best possible entertainment. Discovery Channel is popular for their genres of programme from adventure to science to technology. With regular outflow of strong programming pipeline, new production ideas and unique programming, I see Discovery Channel Tamil building onto its offerings and getting acceptance across varied groups, age and gender.
NA: These initiatives will further the cause of ‘glocalisation’ and bridge the best of both worlds. That world will combine sensibilities of a worldwide network coupled with the programming strength one gains in creating content that is distinctly local and closer to home. Superior production quality in showcasing the local content will add value to every stake holder in the chain - the viewer, the channel and the advertiser.