Discovery Japan leverages niche content for rapid growth

Discovery Japan leverages niche content for rapid growth

“With Tubular data, we were able to find adjacent audience, which we otherwise would have guessed on.”

Allie Sakakibara, Associate Director, Head of Content

Discovery Japan, a powerhouse in real-life entertainment, has captivated audiences worldwide with its inspiring and informative content. By exploring the intersection of televised programs and social content, the global Discovery network has transcended across continents, cultures, and channels. 

Allie Sakakibara, Associate Director and Head of Content at Discovery Japan, shares how they leverage YouTube to complement traditional media strategies.


Content Length Optimization 

Initially, the Discovery Japan team grappled with determining the optimal content length for their YouTube channel. Despite consistent efforts with short-form content, breakthrough success eluded them. The team knew they needed to test out longer content that could be repurposed from television shows— but striking the perfect balance would not be easy.


Content Diversification

Following the initial success of their hit show “Marooned,” the Discovery Japan YouTube channel inadvertently became pigeonholed as a survival-themed channel. This posed the challenge of diversifying content to reach a broader audience without losing engagement.

“Discovery Channel Japan was known as a survival channel, which was great because we had really narrowed our niche, but it was also a bad thing because we couldn’t do anything else. So on Tubular, we were able to understand, what other content are our audience also watching? What other content in our Discovery library would our audience also like?

-Allie Sakakibara, Associate Director, Head of Content


Flexible Content Strategy

Embracing flexibility, the team experimented with content lengths until they struck gold with the longer-form “Marooned” series,  an original Discovery show with a 44-minute runtime. Sakakibara noted there was hesitancy to embrace long-form content, as it was important to also maintain the integrity of Discovery’s televised shows. The team reached a compromise by editing multiple episodes into long-form social media content.

The video that went viral was uploaded on September 26, 2018. And as you can see, it currently has 5.4 million views [as of March 2021]. This video really put us on the map. So it was a very short period of about one month until we went from virtually no views to really making that first hit content.

-Allie Sakakibara, Associate Director, Head of Content


Audience Analysis with Tubular Data

Leveraging Tubular data, Discovery Japan gained insights into audience preferences and interests beyond survival content. This led to the creation of diverse content spanning topics like ghost hunting, fishing, travel, food, and more.

“In our Tubular Labs dashboard, you can see Audience Also Watches Creators and Videos. I was able to pinpoint three huge YouTube creators that had a very similar audience to us. One of them was a very popular food and fishing channel. So we took a gamble and put a food channel show on, which has nothing to do with survival, but people loved it. With Tubular data, we were able to find adjacent audiences, which we otherwise would have just guessed on.”

-Allie Sakakibara, Associate Director, Head of Content


Diversification and Audience Expansion 

By diversifying content and catering to broader interests, Discovery Japan expanded its audience base. The success of “Marooned” paved the way for the channel’s transformation into a hub for diverse content, attracting viewers interested in various topics beyond survival.

  • In February of 2024, Discovery Japan was the #3 Japanese creator on Facebook in Science & Tech 
  • In the past 365 days, the channel’s top 6 videos were all YouTube #shorts, allowing them to reach new viewers
  • 90% of their YouTube audience also watches videos about Humor, and 70% also watches videos about Film

Discovery Japan’s journey exemplifies the power of adaptability and testing out different strategies. Making data-informed decisions can empower creators to take strategic risks. By embracing experimentation, leveraging data insights, and leaning into niche content, Discovery Japan has solidified its position as a leader in captivating audiences on YouTube, Facebook, and more. 

Download the full webinar to watch on-demand here: Growing Audiences on YouTube with Discovery Japan

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