In a perfect world, Discovery Communications, Inc. (DCI), parent company to Discovery Channel, would like its 24-hour Asian entity to be on every cable system in the Pacific Rim. While reaching that goal is far off in the distance, DCI continues robust program sales that may create the demand to make that dream a reality.
Launched in January 1994, Discovery Channel Asia is available to over 5.5 million subscribers in countries from Fiji to China. However, individual program sales to terrestrial broadcasters, which have been conducted since 1992, will be DCI’s main thrust at MIP’ Asia.
Internationally, DCI program sales include specials and series that run domestically in the U.S. on Discovery Channel and The Learning Channel. Because the volume of programs it produces domestically far outweighs the amount it needs on its international channels, Discovery offers the remainder of its library for sale to noncable outlets abroad. As a policy, DCI sells its programs to terrestrial broadcasters only.
Originally, nature documentaries sold best in the region because those types of programs were the easiest to dub. More recently, other documentary genres have also been well received, according to Steven Patscheck, account executive, international product sales for Discovery Communications.
‘When we started program sales, people looked to us as a natural history program sales company,’ Patscheck says. ‘Over the past couple of years, I think they’ve realized that all of our programming appeals to mass audiences. What we offer are nonfiction entertainment programs.’
As evidence, the slate of shows destined for MIP’ Asia includes exploration (Destination Mars, Wonders of the Universe), history (Conquerors) and science (TechnoSpy) as well as traditional nature documentaries (Galapagos: Beyond Darwin) that appeal to families.
Patscheck said that DCI has been ‘pleasantly surprised’ at how well the company is received in Asia. He believes that in the long run, individual program sales will help build the brand awareness necessary to create a demand to have Discovery Channel Asia placed on additional local cable outlets. ‘If they like it, they’ll want more of it. That’s a benefit to the channel.’