Discovery+ launches in 2021 without live TV channels

Discovery plans to launch a new on-demand streaming service called Discovery+ that includes shows from its …

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Discovery plans to launch a new on-demand streaming service called Discovery+ that includes shows from its cable networks. 

But cord cutters expecting a small bundle of live TV channels or the latest seasons from popular shows will need to look elsewhere, according to The Wall Street Journal

Discovery+ is set to launch on Jan. 4. It’s programming will tap a deep library of shows from HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Discovery ID, OWN, Animal Planet and Discovery.

The service will cost $4.99 per month with ads, or $6.99 per month without. Discovery struck a deal with Verizon Communications Inc. to provide the streaming service free to its U.S. customers for a year. 

Discovery has also struck a deal with A+E Networks. The pact will bring a number of shows to Discovery+ such as The First 48, Ice Road Truckers, Pawn Stars, Ancient Aliens, Storage Wars, 60 Days In, Intervention and Ghost Hunters.

The company said Discovery+ will have 55,000 episodes from 2,500+ shows.

Discovery+ Originals

To maintain and grow a subscriber base, executives are counting on a slate of reality-based shows that will be exclusive Discovery+. The company has already greenlit dozens of new shows, documentaries, true-crime shows and home improvement series. 

There will be an updated version of “Fixer Upper”. Another original, “90 Day Bares All” is a companion series to the TLC show “90 Day Fiance”.

On the true crime front, “Queen of Meth”, Tom Arnold’s sister, Lori, tells her tale of becoming the “Queen Pin” of a multimillion-dollar drug enterprise from an Iowa cabin back in 1984. A Discovery ID fixture, Joe Kenda, is returning with a new series called “American Detective with Joe Kenda”.

Girding against cord cutting

The WSJ story noted that Discovery will have to walk a fine line between launching its streaming service, and not souring its relationship with cable TV and satellite providers.

The newspaper reported

Discovery aims to solve this problem by keeping new seasons of many shows on its traditional TV channels exclusively for a window of time, ensuring that they are still valuable for cable and satellite companies, according to a person familiar with the matter.

So for now, that means the millions of cord cutters that want to see a brand new episode of a show on HGTV will be more likely to rely on a live TV service such as Philo or Sling TV. 

The launch comes at a time when millions of people have already dropped cable TV and satellite.

Discovery executives are aiming to stand apart from the streaming giant Netflix by offering a lineup of non-fiction shows, according to the WSJ. But it’s worth noting that Discovery+ will likely have to compete more with Hulu, where numerous Discovery and A+E shows already reside. (Hulu on-demand costs $5.99 per month with ads, a similar price point to Discovery+.) 

Note to branding execs: The field of pluses is saturated. Let’s tabulate. 

ESPN+ launched in spring 2018. Since then, there has been Disney+, Apple TV+, BET+ , Hulu + Live TV, FX+ (R.I.P.) and Paramount+ (coming in 2021 after CBS All Access rebrands). I would love to see the survey or marketing study that affirms adding “+” to your brand is a great idea for 2021.

It’s probably too late for Discovery+ to do an 11th hour rebrand, but I am hoping they won’t need it. 

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Jim Kimble is a seasoned industry expert with over two decades of journalism experience. He has been at the forefront of the cord-cutting movement since 2016, testing and writing about TV-related products and services. He founded The Cord Cutting Report in 2016, and serves as the editor.

Major publications, including MarketWatch, Forbes, and South Florida Sun Sentinel, have interviewed Kimble for his years of expertise. He gives advice on the complexities consumers are navigating with streaming options, and over-the-air TV. Kimble has been a staff writer or correspondent for several award-winning, daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe.

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