Discovery Networks International announced it will launch new global editions of its Discovery Health and Discovery Travel & Adventure channels in early July. Discovery Health will air in Europe and Latin America as a 24-hour channel, and will broadcast on Discovery Channel in Asia and India as a two-hour branded block. Discovery Travel & Adventure will launch in Latin America as a 24-hour channel, and as a two-hour block on Discovery Channel India.
Discovery is investing us$100 million into the expansion, the bulk of which will be used to create programming content. But, the development of region-specific programming is currently not included in the budget. ‘We look at projects on a full global basis, so the different regions can buy into particular projects,’ explains Dawn McCall, president of Discovery Networks, International. ‘There will be quite a bit of original product on those services, but not product created for a particular region.’ McCall estimates regional programming will be introduced in the next two to three years, depending on the growth of the service.
Latin America currently receives Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Discovery Kids and People + Arts. Both People + Arts and Animal Planet are created through a partnership between Discovery and the BBC, and McCall is quick to ensure that unlike Discovery People, which is being phased out of the U.S., People + Arts will not be replaced by the new feeds. No partnerships currently exist for Health or Travel & Adventure, but McCall says DNI is not ‘closed-off’ to the possibility.
Asia’s current channel carriage includes Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and Discovery Kids. Despite the fact that Asia’s television market still stands on wobbly legs, McCall is optimistic about the region’s potential. ‘The economic crisis put everyone back a year or so, but we’re planning on breaking even this year in the Asian market place. We took the block approach so we can get a breadth of product available so the regional programmers can make appropriate choices,’ The possibility of eventually turning the blocks into independent channels is a suggestion McCall welcomes: ‘We are still very bullish on Asia and will continue to search for product that makes sense in that market.’
According to Credit Suisse First Boston, DNI saw revenues of us$1.4 billion in 1999 and has an estimated market value of $10.6 billion. Discovery brands are currently available in 147 countries, reaching approximately 1.2 billion people.