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Discovering the mass market

Sounak Mitra/New Delhi 12 Nov 12 | 12:00 AM

Discovery Channel has entered into a brand association with Yash Raj Films for the Shah Rukh Khan movie Jab Tak Hai Jaan, which releases on the Diwali day. The alliance, the channel hopes, will popularise Discovery among the aam aadmi, reaching even the rural mass that the channel has failed to attract since it entered the Indian market in 1995.

In the movie, the character Akira, played by Anushka Sharma, is an employee of Discovery who wants to make a documentary on the lead male protagonist of the film — Samar — played by Shah Rukh. The audience will discover the entire story of the film through Akira’s eyes.

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Besides shooting in various locales, Sharma also shot at the Discovery’s office to make the experience as real as possible for the viewers.

“We got such approaches for such associations earlier, but did not go ahead. This was an instant connect," says Rahul Johri, senior vice president and general manager, South Asia, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific.

Earlier, Discovery had made ‘Living with a Superstar’, a special series that featured Shah Rukh Khan which was aired on the lifestyle channel TLC. “We wanted to associate with the leading non-fiction channel," says Ashish Patil, Vice President, Yash Raj Films.

Discovery has tried out innovative brand associations earlier as well. After the initial excitement that saw Discovery reach three million Indian homes, mostly urban, in the first year of its operations in India, the channel felt the need for branding itself as viewership dropped from almost 13 million to eight million as soon as it became a pay channel in mid 1999.

Discovery had then tied up with Doordarshan that aired its programmes for two hours a day in Hindi, thus, helping the channel to reach a different set of audience. This was followed by a tie-up with south Indian Vijay TV.

In October 2002, India Today readers got a programme booklet of Discovery Channel with the magazine. This was aimed at familiarising Discovery amongst the Indian viewers as a survey had revealed that though people watch Discovery Channel, they were not familiar with its programmes and schedules.

In August 2002, the channel tied up with Canon India with imaging contests for school children. The next year, it again tied up with Businessworld magazine to distribute programme guides.

Then came the alliance with Sony Entertainment Television (SET) in 2003 which made the channel available to all Indian homes that had subscribed to SET.

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