Discovery Communications Inc., an American global networks company, had entered the Indian television market in 1995 with its eponymous channel offering that focused on non-fiction, infotainment programming. Nearly two decades later, steered by a solid senior management team, it had built a formidable operation with 11 channels spanning various genres and created a strong brand presence in India. Though the company was a leader in almost all the genres in which it operated, the Discovery team knew that they could not afford to be complacent even for a single day in the extremely competitive Indian television market. With close to 800 channels fighting for viewership daily, they had to make quick and tough decisions day in and day out. Looking back on their journey and some of the strategic moves they had made in India, it was evident that they had managed to pick up certain distinct capabilities along the way. Not only had they successfully “Indianized” a global brand, they had also deftly overcome some of the challenges inherent to the television industry in India.
What was next for Discovery? This was the question that the team was grappling with in 2014. With their most recent launch, “Discovery Kids,” it seemed that they were once again moving in the direction of children's edutainment. Did this mean they were coming full circle? Could they successfully apply what they had learned from the past to the unknown future? How could they do things differently and yet stay true to their vision and brand promise of making the Discovery television experience deep and enriching? The case presents the hard choices that Discovery needed to make at several strategic junctures as the cable television market changed and evolved over the years. It facilitates an in-depth discussion on whether, and how, Discovery has developed the ability to make astute decisions and acquired the necessary agility to respond to the dynamic market in India.
This case can be used in graduate level and executive MBA courses on strategy, leadership, organizational behavior and change management. Based on the course, the teaching objectives could be as follows:
· To highlight the challenges of setting direction in a new market
· To understand the process of developing a growth strategy
· To illustrate the importance of continuous recalibration and the agility required for course correction
· To demonstrate how an organization can successfully leverage assets and capabilities to carve out a unique and inimitable position for itself