Discovery Channel’s Localization Strategy


How localization works in television channel companies and the tough competition in today’s market

In this technologically growing world, television companies and channels are in constant competition for the attention of the audience as more and more choices are provided to the viewers, and this struggle is predicted to only increase in the future. With digitalization, access to various international channels has also become easier making the competition tougher. This is driving channels to improve their marketing strategy and deliver localized content as per the preferences of the audience across various countries. Most important aspects to be considered here are languages and subtitle demands of the local market.

In the past, companies would localize their content for one country at a time but later many realized that keeping the central theme same and modifying it according to the target market is a better approach bringing in real profits. Another important aspect to keep in mind for localization was the cultural differences and sensitivity of the audience. Applying this combination of language preferences, subtitle requirements and cultural aspects, various television channel companies integrated themselves into the global as well as local market spanning across countries. One such example of successful localization is Discovery channel.


World’s number one nonfiction media channel, discovery communication reaches 1.5 billion viewers spanning across 180 countries. In the Asia Pacific alone, seven channels of discovery reach 514 subscribers in 32 countries with customization in 13 languages. Its carefully curated content entertains and informs people, engaging their curiosity through channels like Animal Planet, Discovery Science and Discovery HD. It also has a diversified portfolio in digital services like How Stuff Works. The first phase of localization helped discovery network gain a strong viewership which later helped in solidifying and structuring the global network of discovery channels.


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source: https://investinholland.com/news/discovery-announces-european-headquarter-for-paytv-in-the-netherlands/

Discovery network started in Europe in 1989. It later split into discovery networks UK and discovery network EMEA in 2007. A new logo was adopted in 2008 with a new look. Various localized branches in different nations were also established like Discovery Networks DeutschlandDiscovery Networks BeneluxDiscovery Networks NordicDiscovery Networks Italia and Discovery Networks EMEA. In 2011, Discovery channel Korea was also launched in association with CMB. It catered to viewers with local content, both entertaining and informative like hip Korea which focused on rising Korean pop culture, river monsters which followed Jeremy Wade in search of most interesting freshwater fish and Extreme Forensics showing real-life cases and loads of forensic drama.

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source: https://www.quora.com/What-channels-do-Discovery-own

In 2014, the Discovery networks Western Europe was split into two categories, Discovery networks Northern Europe and Discovery Networks Southern Europe. Previously, the Discovery Networks Western Europe served 30 countries, UK, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, France, Netherlands comprising 18 brands. Throughout the 2000s the channel broadcasted only a single version to all of Europe except for the United Kingdom and Italy which had localized programming. Soon, in 2010, a Discovery Travel and Living was introduced into the market which later replaced all the localized Travel and living channels in the pan European market. It heavily featured lifestyle programs on food, travel, architecture, design, and luxury.


1. Discovery channel was launched in India in 1995. By then it majorly focused on European shows and English language channels. To increase the local audience and gather more viewers it later started dubbing in Indian languages like Hindi and Tamil. With many shows airing in 5 languages across the nation on 11 channels, the company swiftly gathered viewership and started producing shows more relatable to the home audiences.

2. To deal with competition and localize itself in the market along with the advent of digitalization, Discovery needed more channels of varied genres, much different from its informative image held by the audience in the country. Three additional channels were launched in 2014 in the Indian network of the discovery channel network. In fact, a channel called Investigative Discovery was launched in Hindi. The year 2015 saw the launch of shows airing in India in various countries like Discovery America (this happened to spike interest in viewers to get to know about the history and other cultural aspects of another country than their own). In fact, with programs like India Emerges and Beyond India, a yoga documentary, discovery networks India is now contributing to the global pool which garnered more international audience with wider viewership. By then discovery network was already available in the basic packs offered by cable services.

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source: https://www.slideshare.net/DarpanMajumdar/discover-discovery-an-insight-into-the-world-of-discovery-channel

3. This common pool of programs spans across various countries which have profited the survival of the chain of Discovery channel (such as American viewership invested in this global pool alone generated 1.25$ billion). A single source of all the programs that air on discovery channels helps maintain the quality of production. With the consistency of audience and viewership graph, Discovery was able to form contracts with various advertising agencies in every target country. Also, Discovery channels’ advertising rates are one of the lowest in all news channels in India and are one of the main reasons why advertising in the Hindi belt within Discovery channel is a very crucial part for any new/old television campaign. This has helped Discovery gain immense support to make it a main attention centre within the advertising markets in India.

4. To widen its niche to inculcate every age viewer, Discovery had released a kid’s channel: Discovery Kids India as well where content is available in English, Hindi and Tamil. This channel aimed at airing both animation and live-action series tailored to adapt Indian cultural references and revised versions of old tales (like Little Krishna) to entertain and engage with kids across the country. The latest show ‘Little Singham’ has been added to the channel (an animated adaptation of the Bollywood film ‘Singham’ released in 2011) — this launch alone was able to gather 24 million viewers. So, you can only imagine how much viewership Discovery was able to gain with its previous launches. Not only this but Discovery has been able to develop its show’s storylines because it knows the preferences of its viewers and has been updated within this niche.

5. Further, as if this success wasn’t enough, Discovery has entered the space of OTT (over the top channels, where content is delivered through internet connections instead of a traditional cable/broadcast provider) and the streaming service apps by the launch of Discovery Plus which is available at ₹299 per year. The app offers 40+ genres and is available in eight different languages. Not only this but due to the pandemic, Discovery plus had reduced its charges to ₹99 per year for twenty-four hours (on April 16, 2020) which has been one of the highest-grossing strategies of Discovery till now. Alongside this, Discovery has adapted to the pandemic in the most beneficial ways as it announced future launches of three documentaries outlining the outbreak of COVID-19 and has contributed in spreading the message of quarantining through a film called ‘the outdoors can wait’ in India. Now one can only imagine the profit the channels must have gained through this quick localization and adaptability skills during a pandemic.

Targeting the basic aspects of localization by producing content in different languages and varying the genres to compete with other channels, Discovery established itself as one of the topmost viewed channels worldwide.

By Romita Trehan
Team Loc-N-Apps

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