The broadcaster goes both D2C as well as using established distribution partners, including Verizon in the US, Sky in the UK and TIM in Italy. The venture has been some time in the making, acquiring as much original IP as possible and establishing a centralised play-out centre in Sterling, Virginia.
The launch comes amidst heavy competition. There are of course Netflix and Amazon, but recently WarnerMedia has debuted HBO Max, NBCUniversal has launched Peacock, while Disney has launched Disney+ as well as beefing up Hulu. Next year, ViacomCBS plans Paramount+, while Pluto and Tubi offer an ad-supported ‘free’ services. And there asre some niche players around such as Hayu, Shudder, the WWE Network and Crunchyroll.
CEO David Zaslav is sure of success, claiming Discovery+ can co-exist with the others: “We are seizing the global opportunity to be the world’s definitive product for unscripted storytelling, providing households and mobile consumers a distinct, clear and differentiated offering across valuable and enduring lifestyle, and real life verticals. We believe Discovery+ is the perfect complement to every streaming portfolio.”
The initial offer is huge with some 55,000 episodes of its various series of the various channels, including Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC, Food Network and HGTV. In Eurosport will be part of the offer and the broadcaster will make the streaming service the ‘Home of the Olympics’. (This will probably signal the end of the Eurosport Player as a stand-alone service).
Competition. will be very tough for all players in the streaming market. Netflix has the first-to-market advantage with now around 200 million subs. Disney+ made a fast start, but HBO Max and NBC Peacock seem to be slow starters.
Of course Discovery will target a different audience and is counting on the popularity of its programmes and stars, but the broadcaster will have to convince people that are watching the linear channels to part with more money for the on-demand offer. Discovery looks like playing safe with the hybrid distribution approach, going both D2C and via the established partners such as Verizon and Sky, even with offering twelve months free viewing included with top tier packages.