• Discovery Launches discovery+, Pursuing Unscripted Positioning in Crowded Streaming Market

    Discovery announced its discovery+ streaming service today, with a U.S. launch date of January 4th. There will be an ad-light version for $4.99 per month and an ad-free version for $6.99 per month. The service will roll out in 25 additional countries initially, at localized price points and with different packaging options. The first advertising partners announced include Boston Beer Company, Kraft Heinz, Lowe’s and Toyota.

    Verizon will offer new and existing Play More and Get More Unlimited subscribers 12 months free of discovery+. Verizon will give Start and Do More Unlimited subscribers 6 months of discovery+. And new Verizon 5G Home Internet or Fios Gigabit Connection subscribers will also receive 12 months of free discovery+. Verizon offered similar free access to Disney+ at launch (and later the bundle with Hulu and ESPN+) which proved highly effective, driving an estimated 15% of Disney+’s first year subscribers.

    In a statement and an introductory presentation, Discovery Inc. President and CEO David Zazlav said, “With discovery+, 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 during lifestyle and real-life verticals.” He continued that “discovery+ is the perfect complement to every streaming portfolio…”

    This seems like smart positioning for discovery+ given the abundance of high-quality scripted TV shows and movies from industry leaders like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max and many others. While these companies continue to bid up the prices for A-list projects, discovery+ will keep to the company’s roots and networks’ value propositions. Rather than being seen as an “or” streaming service for viewers’ decision-making (e.g. “Should we subscribe to Netflix or discovery+”), discovery+ can compete as an “and” service (e.g. “Let’s subscribe to Netflix and discovery+”).

    To support this positioning, discovery+ will launch with over 55,000 episodes, spanning 2,500+ current and library shows from its networks HGTV, Food Network, TLC, ID, OWN, Travel Channel, Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. It is also investing in new series from its existing portfolio of franchises and talent that will total over 1,000 hours of original content in the first year. discovery+ will also include programs from A&E, History Channel and Lifetime, as well as nature and environmental programming from the BBC. In European markets that are launched next year discovery+ will also include streaming access to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

    discovery+ will also be distributed by Sky, which has launched it to Sky Q customers for free and by TIM in Italy early next year. discovery+ will be available on connected TVs, web, mobile and tablets at launch.

    Although the streaming market is crowded and will become even more so next year, discovery+ has a strong chance of finding its place. The monthly price is relatively low, its brands and talent are well-known, there are strong distribution partnerships in place at launch, the user experience looks robust and there will be abundant library and original content. Importantly, the unscripted positioning gives discovery+ a competitive lane of its own. Stay at home viewing driven by the pandemic and cord-cutting will add further momentum.

    All in all, although discovery+ is coming to market after many others, it is still relatively early days for streaming and I expect discovery+ to find its audience.