Discovery+ Offering 'Ad Lite' And Ad-Free Versions

Discovery Inc.’s long-awaited reveal of its global streaming platform, Discovery+, on Wednesday, offered some intriguing elements, including a hybrid model in the U.S., a partnership with Verizon, an Olympics deal in Europe  — and ambitious projections calling for the new SVOD to ultimately reach 70 million users in the U.S. and 300 million globally. 

In the U.S., the platform — set to launch on January 4 — will have what Discovery President/CEO David Zaslav (above) called an “ad lite” version priced at $4.99 per month, as well as an ad-free version for $6.99 per month.

Advertisers will have eventually have access to data-driven/addressable targeting, and the company asserted that Discovery+ will bring in three times the ad revenue of its linear TV networks, even with just five minutes per hour of ads in the "lite" version. Advertising partners at launch will include Boston Beer Company, Kraft Heinz, Lowe’s and Toyota. 

Discovery also announced a distribution partnership in which "tens of millions" of U.S. Verizon customers on select plans will be eligible to receive up to 12 months of Discovery+.  (Verizon has 55 million subscribers.) No mention was made of distribution partnerships with gatekeeper entities such as Roku and Amazon Fire.

At launch in the U.S., the company says Discovery+ will boast the largest content offering of any new streaming service, including a library of more than 55,000 episodes from 2,500 shows across Discovery’s existing brands (Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, MotorTrend, Animal Planet, Science Channel), the BBC’s Natural History collection, A&E Networks, and Group Nine.

New content partnerships include Magnolia Network, a multiplatform joint venture with Chip and Joanna Gaines. Its original series will include a new take on their star-making “Fixer Upper” series (“Fixer Upper: Welcome Home”); a cooking series (“Magnolia Table With Joanna Gaines”); and premiere episodes from 10 upcoming Magnolia Network original series. Those previews will be exclusive to Discovery+ until the Magnolia Network launches later in 2021.

Other new series will feature Sir David Attenborough, David Schwimmer, Amy Schumer, Will Packer and Kevin Hart, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, and Sebastian Maniscalco, among others. The hugely popular “90 Day Fiancé” franchise is being expanded with a host of spinoffs, including game and talk-show formats.

Discovery+’s international rollout, to reach 25 countries in 2021, began last month in the U.K. and Ireland — where Discovery has a distribution deal with Sky TV — and will continue with India, the Nordics, Italy and the Netherlands. Zaslav announced another new European distribution partnership, with Italy's TIM. Discovery’s existing media assets currently reach 220 countries and territories and span nearly 50 languages.

Discovery+ will be the “streaming home” of the Olympic Games in Europe (Russia excluded), with its Eurosport network (based on offering locally relevant sports) designated as an official broadcaster in France and the U.K. during 2020.

“We have been working methodically the past two years to bring all of our strategic advantages to the launch of Discovery+, including distribution and advertising partnerships around the world, a world-class offering of quality brands, authentic personalities and the largest content library at launch, as well as a broad slate of exclusive programming,” summed up Zaslav. “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 enduring lifestyle, and real-life verticals. We believe Discovery+ is the perfect complement to every streaming portfolio, and we couldn’t be more excited to partner with Verizon to bring this incredible content to their customer base."

Other Discovery+ presentation highlights:

* The Verizon deal calls for new and existing wireless customers with a Play More or Get More Unlimited plan to get 12 months of Discovery+ on Verizon, and those on Start or Do More Unlimited plans to get six months of the streaming service. New customers who sign up for Verizon 5G Home Internet or Fios Gigabit Connection get 12 months of the service, and new Fios customers get three to six months of service, depending on the plan.

* In another new content partnership, Discovery+ will for the first time bring together non-fiction content from A&E, The History Channel and Lifetime with the Discovery brand portfolio. The SVOD will offer more than 1,500 episodes from A&E Networks series such as “The First 48,” “Bring It,” “Ice Road Truckers,” “Pawn Stars,” Ancient Aliens” and “Storage Wars.”

* The streamer’s nature and environmental programming will include exclusive access to the BBC’s largest natural history offering, including “The Mating Game,” “Planet Earth” and “Blue Planet,” and content from digital-first brand The Dodo. Discovery+ will also feature content partnerships top environmental organizations.

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