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.
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.
Founder and Editor of The Cord Cutting Report. Before launching the site in 2016, he worked for more than two decades as a staff writer or correspondent for a number of daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe. His enthusiasm for tech began with the Atari 2600. Follow @james_kimble