But are these new direct-to-consumer services really about going “direct to consumer”?
Case in point, like many other TV-based networks, Discovery Inc. is rumored to be starting a more narrow-targeted streaming app called Discovery+.
In recent years, when it comes to streaming, consumers also had to have a traditional pay TV service -- cable, satellite, and telco -- in order to access TV network groups-owned streaming services. It's part of the TV Everywhere model to protect pay TV providers.
Now, Discovery Inc. -- with an expected launch of Discovery+ -- has analysts saying it's essentially a service targeted to cord-cutters. That means cutting those legacy TV distributing out of the loop.
Listening to David Zaslav, president-CEO of Discovery, and you might think Discovery's streaming plans would be in addition to whatever individual streaming services consumers have.
He recently said: “If you have Netflix, if you have Disney+, if you have Amazon, if you have any video product, who wouldn’t want what we have? It’s what most women in America are watching all the time.”
Right now, Discovery Channel and Discovery Inc networks are in the connected TV world. But they are attached to new virtual pay TV services -- like Philo, Sling (Blue), Hulu with Live TV, fuboTV and YouTube TV. For many customers, this is pretty much like having a cable, satellite and telco monthly service -- a lot more networks than they regularly watch.
What’s different is a very select number of all Discovery networks -- nearly 24 in total -- end up making the cut on these new services. As a part of this, TV network groups need to be careful in expanding their distribution networks -- all this not to run afoul with legacy pay TV providers, still bringing in their bread-and-butter revenues.
That’s not the end of the story.
Mull that eye-candy industry phrase “direct-to-consumer.” What does that really mean, especially when an individual TV network/content group -- with new streaming platforms -- increasingly looks to third-party distributors to make deals.
For example, you may have seen NBCUniversal’s Peacock seal a deal with Roku. (It still doesn’t have one with Amazon Fire TV.) HBO Max doesn’t have a deal with either with Roku or Fire TV. This is important because those platforms each have sizable distribution currently -- 40 million to 45 million monthly users.
Ask yourself the obvious: Why do you need a third-party distributor in a “direct-to-consumer” (D2C) world? Answer: In reality, it is not so direct. More about ID2C: Indirect direct to consumer.
One step forward, two steps back -- and another TV company middleman.