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Discovery to consider OTT launch after pan-India 4G rollout

Discovery Networks

Mumbai : Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific will consider launching its over-the-top (OTT) platform in India once 4G services are rolled out pan-India, according to a senior company official.

“We have introduced our OTT offering in some European countries. I am sure as the bandwidth constraints get eliminated and once 4G is really in place in the country, that is the time we will start evaluating the Discovery offering in India,” Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific EVP and GM-South Asia Rahul Johri told PTI.

OTT is the delivery of film and TV content through the Internet, without requiring users to subscribe to a traditional cable or satellite. 4G services increase the capability to offer high-quality content.

Discovery has two direct-to-customer OTT products offering in Europe — Dplay and Eurosport Player.

KPMG Partner and Head Media and Entertainment Jehil Thakkar said, “There are several OTT offerings being launched – both independent as well as by media companies. We will see more of these as the telecom infrastructure and bandwidth in the country improve.”

India is expected to have 9 crore 4G subscribers and 18 crore 4G smartphones by 2018, according to a report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Discovery, which is airing a four-part series on Mumbai CST titled ‘Mumbai Railway’, is also increasing India-specific shows to cash in on its growing viewership.

“We are building a good pipeline and have been constantly giving Indian viewers a whole host of shows that are being produced in India. So, we hope to continue doing the same,” Johri said.

Discovery Networks has a viewership base of 270 million in India for its bouquet of channels — Discovery Channel, Discovery HD World, TLC, TLC HD World, Animal Planet, Animal Planet HD World, Discovery Science, Discovery Kids, Discovery Turbo, Investigation Discovery (ID).

On plans to introduce vernacular languages on other channels, Johri said it’s a constant evaluation process.

“The reason why Discovery has seen such widespread acceptance is really the languages. We are available in five languages,” he said.

“Language is something we are constantly evaluating. It is a regular process. In the last year or so, we have added Hindi to all our channels. Regional channels for Discovery are always under evaluation. We have certain internal benchmarks. The moment a language touches the benchmark, we definitely go in for that language,” he said.

Across all channels in the infotainment space, Discovery Networks enjoys a 70 per cent market share.

“Today after Hindi entertainment and Hindi Cinema, we are probably the biggest channel. We are twice the sum of National Geographic and History combined,” he said.

However, he declined to divulge how much India contributes to the global revenues, but said, “We are one of the lead primary markets (for Discovery Networks). We are one of the high-growth, high-focus markets for the company.”

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