By Utpal Borpujari
If you think that television is all about breaking news, soap operas, movies and sports, you will not be wrong, considering that these are the images that bombard you day in and day out. But then, there is television that is, to use a clichéd description, “different”. Different in their approach towards what is known as entertainment. They attract large viewerships, and consequently, a big pie of the advertisement share too. Well, as you can guess by now, we are talking about channels like Discovery, Discovery Travel & Living, Animal Planet and National Geographic, which in the truest sense of the term, are infotainment channels.
Now, two more such channels have come up, targeting specifically those who are crazy about science and anything that is motored. The channels we are talking about are Discovery Science and Discovery Turbo, both from the Discovery stable. In a sense, the launch of the two channels signal slow but sure maturing of the Indian television viewing habits, giving the courage to channel heads to target such niche viewership bases.
Discovery Science will showcase the importance of science in our everyday lives and make a point about why science is exciting, even for those who are not science students per se. “It will provide a stimulating look at the impact of science and technology on our everyday lives through a range of entertaining programmes focused on cutting-edge scientific research and discoveries, human body, astronomy, genetics, exploration, medical advances and space,” as Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific senior vice-president Rahul Johri explains.
Discovery Turbo will be, on the other hand, about cars, trucks, motorbikes, planes, yachts and trains and everything in between – basically including anything and everything that runs on a motor. “ It will celebrate all aspects of speed and cover a range of programmes on cars, boats, bikes, aircraft, Formula One racing, motor clubs and trends, celebrity motoring profiles and events,” Johri says.
The programme profile of both the channels look exciting at the first glance. In Discovery Science, a network described as the only one dedicated to making science programming accessible, relevant and entertaining, viewers can expect to find answers to many of the questions they have in their minds regarding some of the greatest mysteries, smallest wonders, lost worlds and the latest in scientific discoveries. For example, the one and only Stephen Hawking will host the show “Master of the Universe”, in which he will examine just how far our understanding of the universe has developed and introduce unimagined science ideas. In “100 Things that Will Change Your Life”, the spotlight will be on scientists working on ideas that could change the world in the near future, while “Beautiful Minds” will showcase the field of brain research through what are supposedly the most interesting and entertaining research subjects, known as the Savants. Currently, there are around 100 recognised Savants with genius-like talents worldwide, who for all brain researchers are a fascinating window into the brain.
Another interesting show is “How It’s Made”, which will take the viewer to assembly lines where technology turns raw material into finished products right before the viewers’ eyes. The idea is to show the viewer how many common and ordinary items are manufactured in the most high-tech factories around the world.
Discovery Turbo, on the other hand, will tickle those who are passionate about motors, and surely, as we know, there are millions of that ilk. Among the initial highlights on the channel are “Mean Green Machines”, which will focus on the latest and greenest vehicles just off the assembly line, “Wheelers Dealers” which features the duo Mike Brewer and Edd China who save repairable classics before selling the newly made-over cars for more than just profit, and “Racer Girlz” which is on a new emerging group of female racers and mechanics in the ultra-competitive and dangerous world of racing. Other interesting programmes are “Red Line TV” which covers the fast-paced sport of drifting, and “Trick My Truck” which features big, rig-truck mechanics who scour truck-stops in search of drivers whose trucks are in need of dire help.
The Science channel comes to India after reaching some 98 countries, while Turbo arrives after travelling through 70-odd nations. According to Johri, it is the right time for the two to come to India. “India is a young country with half the populatin under 25, and as the knowledge economy grows, there is tremendous appetite and need for informed entertainment here. These are not kids channels, but are for everybody. The Science channel has especially resonated very well with audiences in all the countries it is available. The Turbo, on the other hand, is more for males. Till now, Discovery Travel & Living was the only serious player in lifestyle space, and we saw a serious opening for as male lifestyle channel, and this is it,” he says. The channels, he points out, have come at a time when Indian television is moving towards digitalization, which he says will help them reach the target audiences much better.