K Rajani Kanth
Discovery Channel is piggybacking on Ultimate Discovery – a one-hour time band programme that airs shows ranging from science, technology, history, natural world, adventure and exploration from 9 pm to 10 pm every day – to increase its eyeball tally in India.
“In six weeks of the launch of Ultimate Discovery on October 1 this year, about 19 million people watched the programme, increasing Discovery’s viewership by 18 per cent in India. Besides, our viewership grew 25 per cent in the 9 pm slot post the launch of Ultimate Discovery. We want to capitalise on this by airing 11 refreshing insightful shows on Ultimate Discovery that will take viewers on an uncharted journey into the real world,” Rajiv Bakshi, director (marketing and communications), Discovery Networks (Asia Pacific), told Business Standard.
The new genre-defining programmes that are slated to be premiered in India between January and March 2009 include Discover India, a 13-title show that travels across the diverse landscapes of India narrating festivities of Diwali, the gripping story of a girl with eight limbs, the beauty of Ladakh and an account of the highly controversial career of Indian cricket team’s former coach Guru Greg.
Also on offer are Cool Stuff-How It Works that unravels the hidden facts about how some amazing inventions work including exploring the mechanics of a wingless human flight in a giant wind tunnel, how a 3D ultrasound has revolutionised hear surgery and how fire-proof suits withstand 2000-degree flames, and Into the Unknown with Josh Bernstein, where this international explorer takes the viewers on a journey to remote locations filled with mystery and hidden treasures.
The non-fiction entertainment channel had started a nationwide campaign – TV, print, online and 20 outdoor tours – with a tagline ‘Real World Real Entertainment’ from December 8 to promote its new offering. The channel, which reaches out to over 36 million households in India, is now ahead of NDTV by 268 per cent and has got 3.5 times higher viewership than CNN-IBN in the 9 pm band post Ultimate Discovery. Its lead over Star Movies has jumped from 35 per cent to 53 per cent, according to Television Audience Measurement (TAM) India data.
“We have always been ahead of all the English-genre channels in India. While our market share stood at 15 per cent for the whole of 2007, we have already surpassed 18 per cent so far this year. We expect this to grow further through Ultimate Discovery,” Bakshi said.
What’s next for India after March? “We will be starting a new programme – Time Warp – in the next two quarters that shows the secrets of everyday events in slow motion – from capturing the force as a face is punched, what happens when a matchstick snaps and how a runner avoids breaking his legs after a two-storey leap,” he added.