Discovery Networks embraces localised short-form content in shift to maker organisation

Arthur Bastings, president and managing director of Discovery Networks Asia Pacific.

Discovery Networks Asia Pacific is focusing on localised short-form content as it seeks to transition from a traditional video company into a maker organisation.

The shift is being driven by the network’s desire to engage young audiences across Asia Pacific, according to Arthur Bastings, president and managing director of Discovery Networks Asia Pacific.

Bastings told The Drum, the shift was evident in initiatives such as the company’s recent partnership with China’s VS Media. The deal sees the launch of a short-form digital video content brand, Tan Ba, which features content from Discovery’s global catalogue which has been localised and curated by VS Media’s community of makers.

Launching just a few weeks ago, Tan Ba is already attracting 2 – 3 million views per video and total views across all the content have passed 120 million views. All without any marketing activity.

“We’ve had a very strong reaction from the community,” said Bastings. “It really speaks to the potential of quality content that is interesting and has good quality imagery and a degree of professionalism. So far, our beginnings are looking very good.”

It’s not just viewers who are enjoying the content. Demand from advertisers has been “so strong” that Discovery Networks is exploring how it can ramp up the volume of videos, currently at 5 – 6 a week, to meet the interest. The new platform is expected to break even in its first year of operation.

Bastings credits the unique mix of Discovery content with the creativity of VS Media’s community of quality content makers and influencers, as the key to Tan Ba’s success.

“The content feels very local, very Chinese and very young. It is a completely different take on the Discovery world than anything you or I could have imagined for the brand.”

Bastings said Discovery plans to create similar initiatives and partnerships across the region.

“We believe that Asia is a very evolved market from a video consumption perspective across long, mid and short form video. Discovery has historically been very focused on long form and now we need to scratch into these other spaces. You will see a whole slew of initiatives coming out of our stable this year that really start exploring the short and medium-form opportunities, not just in China, but other Asia markets as well.

“That’s not to say that we have stopped believing in long form, but, our view is that we need to capture all platforms. Consumers want to consume different types of content at different times of the day and we want to be there for these opportunities with content that is exciting, stimulating and fun. That is what we are trying to do with these types of initiatives.

In order to achieve this, Discovery Networks is focusing on community insights and data to help the company evolve from a traditional media company into a more open maker organisation.

“One of the things we are passionate about at Discovery is becoming a maker organisation, we are still deploying global content for different audiences but we are also stepping up efforts around local content and making things in market for the market.

“We are very focused on the mindsets of consumers groups and communities and how we can work with different communities. It’s no longer just about being a video company, we need to become a data company. Through these initiatives we want to get closer to communities and different communities, so that we can take these insights and develop more content that really aligns with their interests,” said Bastings.

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