Discovery, known for its non-fiction content, is expanding its slate of originals for its OTT platform Discovery+ and its linear channels, as per Sai Abishek, Head of Factual and Lifestyle Cluster, South Asia, Warner Bros Discovery.
In an exclusive interaction with BestMediaInfo.com, Abishek highlighted that Discovery has played a significant role in evolving the true crime genre, which has seen a surge in viewership because of OTT platforms.
“We have a meaningful slate of Originals and we are also making original programming not just for Discovery+ but also for our linear channels. So, we are continuing to produce shows that are also catering to a very dedicated audience on the channel side which are in the adventure survival genre, one of our core categories on the Discovery network. But we are also looking at a very varied multi-genre slate,” Abishek said.
“We cater to lots of other genres which may or may not necessarily be on the channel side – for example, history, mythology, true crime, among others on the Discovery+ side. A lot of our plans on the OTT side are dynamic,” he added.
Speaking about the content consumption trends, Abishek said, “Essentially, we are seeing a very high and passionate viewership for non-fiction programming. We are seeing the key categories of non-fiction whether it is adventure survival, mythology, science, biopics, local productions, we see a heavy skew in male viewership with a female viewership as well.”
“Our growth has been quite positive over the last couple of years on the OTT side. We see an uptake on both local as well as global launches but locals majorly drive the conversations and viewership,” he added.
How Discovery played a significant role in evolving the crime genre
Abishek said, “We have always consumed crime as a genre in various shapes and forms over generations whether it's story books, detective fiction, crime serials on General Entertainment Channels (GEC) or on radio, documentaries, podcasts, news, etc. So, this evolution is not only led by OTT or TV, it was already there but Discovery played a significant role in evolving this category.”
“We have had a bunch of programming namely - My Daughter Joined a Cult, Money Mafia, Dangals of Crime, among others. There are various ways of slicing and dicing true crime stories and there are many sub-genres within this. It's an excellent time for true crime as a category, perhaps fiction too can do well but documentaries are now able to do much better comparatively. So, we are also evolving the true crime genre,” Abishek added.
Speaking about other categories, Abishek said that looking back, the networks had four to five key categories of storytelling and everything else was a version of these.
“Essentially, we are looking at all categories, as true crime has been catering to selective interest for a long period of time. Because of OTTs and post-pandemic time the viewership of such categories has gone up. The genres that we are seeing include non-fiction, which is doing really well. Then there are true crime, mythology, adventure survival, lifestyle, and we also have travel and cooking channels. Apart from that, we also have Warner Bros formats, so we are dipping into our extensive format pool and trying to adapt them for the Indian market,” he added.
Discovery+ has differentiated audience and genres unlike others
Speaking about what sets Discovery+ apart from its competitors, Abishek said, “We have a very differentiated audience and set of genres which others don't have. We have a legacy of more than three decades around the world of doing only non-fiction so we have been there before even others entered the picture and we know how to do this well.”
“The offerings on the platform are curated from the pool of global content that we have access to and viewers in India get access to all these genres and much more. We have Investigation Discovery, Animal Planet, TLC, Science etc. We also have partnerships with the BBC and others. So, you will see all of this content on one single platform and we are evolving this as we go along. I do believe that we are home for non-fiction in India and it is only going to get bigger in the coming years,” Abishek added.
The aim is to expand the appeal of the content to a larger audience while not alienating the core audience
Abishek also spoke about how the network balances producing content that appeals to a wide audience base while also catering to niche interests and communities.
“There are two-three things that we are doing simultaneously. We want to expand the appeal of the category to a larger audience while not alienating the core audience. We have to be true to the genres. We are trying to do the right partnerships with the right filmmakers with convictions,” Abishek stated.
“India has a lot of exciting talent so we are also finding people who want to be a part of this storytelling. We are collaborating with anyone and everyone who has fantastic ideas. We are working on multi-lingual stuff and sometimes we also fly down experts from different parts of the world to help advise filmmakers in India and bring their expertise to tell it in a way that has not been told in India before,” he added.
While speaking about the future of OTT content in the coming years, Abishek said this is the decade where the non-fiction genre will take the centre stage.
“It is a signal for new things to come. You are going to see fantastic stories that have never been told before come to the surface. This decade a lot of collaborations between different industries are going to happen from the film and non-fiction side and new voices are going to emerge. Lots of experiments are going to happen. More people will enter the game of producing non-fiction,” he added.