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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

Discovery Digital Networks Growth Fueled by Staff Superfans

March 6, 2014 | By Michelle Manafy, Editorial Director – DCN @michellemanafy
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Discovery Digital Networks is feeling the love from its audience more than ever. The web-native portfolio, which is made up of four original video networks – Revision3TestTubeAnimalist and the DeFranco Network – has increased views and audience 400% since Revision3 joined the Discovery Communications family in May 2012. An increased focus on video has been a key factor in the growth. Today, fans across these four digital networks are consuming, on average, 160 million video views each month and, in social circles, the communities are stronger than ever – with 35 million followers and 14 million Facebook fans.

Discovery’s digital-native portfolio has driven its growth the ‘Discovery way,’ with highly curated, premium content. Content that Discovery owns. Great storytelling is at the heart of the programming, led by show hosts who are as authentic as the content itself. It’s the relationship between the show host and each community that drives engagement.

In fact, according to the latest Discovery Digital Networks’ Audience Survey, the most compelling driver of views and social interaction is the fact that Discovery hosts are, themselves “superfans of their brands, the network and its content,” according to Suzanne McDonnell, SVP of Sales Strategy & Client Solutions at Discovery Communications.

Discovery TestTube ScreenAccording to Discovery’s research, the authenticity of its hosts is at the core of why its content resonates with fans and advertisers alike. As McDonnell puts it, “our hosts are experts not actors. They are born of the communities that they represent.” This affinity between the shows’ fans and the equally engaged hosts has inspired the programming.

Comments from survey respondents made this sentiment clear: “The Rev3Games team comes across as honest professional[s] that actually play and enjoy games…You are critics, yes, but you also have a love for gaming.” Of Hak5, a respondent said “I think it is the personalities that make it top notch. They really seem to be enjoying themselves.” And one DNews viewer said “I feel just like I’m listening to a friend talk.”

Discovery Digital Networks found that 97% of viewers are very/somewhat satisfied with the host’s personality and 92% with the host’s expertise. This fact, says McDonnell, keeps the network focused on “a hosted-show model around which we build passionate communities.”

The power of highly curated, premium programing, led by authentic hosts, extends itself to advertisers as well. Discovery’s research found that 64% of respondents feel that brands featured within the network programs are usually a good fit with the show/channel, and 50% have more confidence in brands featured within the programming. “Viewers trust Discovery Digital Networks to feature brands that are relevant to them. Viewers’ highly favorable opinions of our content adds a halo effect to brands featured within the content,” says McDonnell. “That presents unparalleled opportunity for advertisers to join the conversation and become a member of these communities.”

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