Discovering open minded entertainment: Discovery relaunches original content, distribution partnerships and cross-platform presence

Blog article
Bruno ZAMBARDINO

MoneyIt's definitely a special moment for Discovery here in Italy. The most recent news is the recognition of the award of the Fondazione Bellisario, which since 1989 has been assigned to women who have distinguished themselves in the field of entrepreneurship, to Marinella Soldi, who of Discovery is President & Managing Director for the Southern Europe area (Italy, Spain, France and Portugal). And this award just seems like a seal to the path made by Discovery, which in recent times has not made a mistake.

Armed with a portfolio of thirteen channels, seven of which are in the clear and six paid, it has now become the third TV hub in Italy, with 6.4% share (7.2% in June and 9.3% on the 15-54 and 10% target on the 15-34 segment), finally managing to realize what, in the past, had been the goal of many, from Telemontecarlo, to Telecom, by Michele Santoro along with Maurizionzo Costa Tele with , and most recently from Urbano Cairo with La7, namely to create something seriously alternative to Rai and Mediaset.

And advertising is also strong: in the first four months of the year, free-to-air advertising increased by 6.4 per cent, 4.2 per Mediaset, 5.3 for Rai, 12.2 for Sky and 18.7 for Discovery, which is three times the average. It means that from January to April Discovery grossed 75 million and, at the end of the year, will have budget 225 million in commercials alone. Or more: Nielsen estimates that Discovery could close 2016 at 270 million. "Of the 220 countries in which we are present, Italy is the most important one for advertising collection, more than the United Kingdom, Germany and the countries of the North," said Marinella Soldi, who also recalls that in Italy Discovery has an internal dealership that sells advertising, Discovery Media, while it is not in other countries. A sign that the Italian market is judged to be so important as to justify such a transaction.

From Discovery they comment that the company offers strong brands partners with a clear positioning in the market, "capable of creating deep opportunities for contact with the public" according to Giuliano Cipriani, general manager of Discovery Media. It also mentions the 70 hours of branded content that will be produced during 2016. But in addition to these the company is also strong of more than 600 hours of original local productions and 5,500 hours of premieres. And since launching Dplay, its OTT service, a year ago, it has introduced the concept of Total video.

Perhaps Dplay was just what Discovery lacked to compete all round in the audiovisual market. And once again the numbers are proving her right. Launched in June 2015, the service allows you to see Discovery's free portfolio programs on any device and at any time. After the first six months of operation, the service had recorded 6.6 million unique users and 15.8 million videos viewed, with an average viewing time of more than 18 minutes. Today the views have doubled and the users have become 11 million. In addition to 5 million fans and followers on social media. It is this overall audience, in addition to the strictly television audience, that Discovery captures in the concept of Total video.

And it is, according to Soldi, precisely this desire to bring news to consumers in terms of content on any type of platform, as well as offering something new to advertising investors, which is rewarding Discovery.

A great news is definitely the one that has been announced in recent days: the passage of the comedian Maurizio Crozza from la7 to Discovery, namely to the Nine, which is called precisely because of the coveted position on the remote control. On TV8 (key 8, of course), which is a free-to-air channel of Sky, there is instead the newsstand of Fiorello. From next January, therefore, to see Maurizio Crozza you will have to press the nine button. The Ligurian comedian will host his weekly show and probably even a daily prime-time strip, where Discovery is weak. Once again the company's commentary focuses on the quality of the brand. "We wanted a character to qualify us and position us as contemporary," said Laura Carafoli, head of programming.

But Crozza is perhaps just the flagship name of a programming that will count on other excellent presences. There will be Fabio Volo, protagonist of a mockumentary on fishing boats, Roberto Saviano who in December will replicate Imagine, the story of a year through photos, Max Giusti with his quiz, the former swimming champion Massimiliano Rosolino for an adventure game, the star of the kitchens Angelo Cannavacciulo for the inevitable reality from the stove. Important names that assume important budgets and compensation, and which evidently Discovery can afford, with the eternal frontier of young TV. The company has brought to Italy factual entertainment, the story of reality without the game, characteristic of reality. And today one of its main strengths is the constant evolution of the editorial proposal. In Carafoli's words, a form of original entertainment, 'open minded', with an international breath but with strong local roots: compelling shows, with a distinctive voice, agile in form, with a language always connected to reality and 'always on' to create an increasingly solid relationship with the public".

And an example of this new type of offer is No TV, online channel on Dplay, which aims to produce and distribute, online from April, comic content of different formats, mainly destined for the web, through the collaboration of television authors of experience with young youtuber and well-known characters of the small screen – among the names already certain Geppi Gucciari and The Third Secret of satire. Already the name is emblematic: No TV is an alternative way to enjoy TV content, not on TV but online. Dplay can be seen on any device (pc, mac, tablet, smartphone), on the dplay.com website and downloading the free app. The content is produced by Zerostudios and ITV Movies for Discovery Australia

But Discovery didn't stop there. At the beginning of June, a partnership was announced with Vodafone to bring free channels – Nine, Real Time, DMax, Yellow, Focus, K2 and Frisbee – to Vodafone TV. The deal brings the first generalist (but unconventional) broadcaster aboard Vodafone TV, which will also also host Netflix, and whose commercial launch is scheduled for the autumn. The news that an operator like Vodafone (24.4 million mobile users in Italy alone) becomes a cross-platform distributor for quality content confirms the direction in which the market is moving, anytime anywhere.

For Discovery, however, it is an opportunity to further expand its audience, thanks to its quality content made available, through the main ways of use. At a time when contact with the public is a dynamic phenomenon, in the making, Discovery is a media company that goes looking for users. A move, in short, as a protagonist.

(in collaboration with Giulia Berni)