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Discovery+ preps for January 4 US debut, starting at $4.99

Discovery Communications has set a January 4, 2021, US launch date for Discovery+, a new direct-to-consumer service that will mark the programmer's entry into the so-called streaming wars.

Discovery+'s ad-supported service will fetch $4.99 per month; an ad-free version will run $6.99 per month. Each account will support up to five user profiles and four concurrent streams.

Set to debut with more than 55,000 episodes, Discovery+ will offer both ad-supported and ad-free options to the streaming masses.  
(Image source: Discovery Communications)
Set to debut with more than 55,000 episodes, Discovery+ will offer both ad-supported and ad-free options to the streaming masses.
(Image source: Discovery Communications)

The new OTT service will feature new and catalog shows from a Discovery programming stable that includes the flagship Discovery channel, HGTV, OWN, Food Network, TLC, ID, Travel Channel and Animal Planet. Discovery has also struck a content partnership that will weave in content from A&E, The History Channel and Lifetime to Discovery+, including titles such as The First 48, Ice Road Truckers and Ghost Hunters. Discovery has also greenlit a batch of new original shows for its new streaming service, and it anticipates offering more than 1,000 hours of original fare on Discovery+ in year one.

All told, Discovery+ intends to support its US launch with a library of more than 55,000 episodes spanning 2,500 current and catalog shows.

Discovery said the new OTT service will be available on multiple mobile and TV streaming platforms. However, it has yet to reveal the full list and if Roku, which still lacks a deal with HBO Max, will be on it.

To help Discovery+ prime the pump in the US, Verizon mobile, Fios and 5G Home customers on certain plans – including the carrier's "Get More Unlimited" mobile and Fios 1-Gig home broadband plans – are in line to get up to 12 months of Discovery+ – a promotion that shares some resemblances to one Verizon struck last year with Disney+. Verizon is also providing six months of Discovery+ to customers on its "Start" or "Do More" mobile unlimited plans. New Fios customers can also get three or six months of the new service, depending on their plan.

Global ambitions

On the international front, Discovery+ launched with Comcast-owned Sky in the UK and Ireland last month (Sky Q customers are getting the service for 12 months at no extra cost). TIM, another distribution partner, will offer Discovery+ in Italy in early 2021. Discovery also has plans to introduce its direct-to-consumer streaming service to additional countries and global regions in 2021, including the Nordics, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, as well as Latin American markets and parts of Asia.

With the rollout of Discovery+, Discovery will join a group of other major programmers that have launched or plan to introduce new direct-to-consumer streaming services. That group includes Disney (Disney+), WarnerMedia (HBO Max), NBCUniversal (Peacock) and ViacomCBS, which is slated to launch Paramount+, a successor to CBS All Access, in early 2021.

Those services are entering the picture amid the ongoing erosion of traditional pay-TV and the continued rise of premium subscription VoD services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Traditional pay-TV service providers lost about 1.45 million subs in Q3 2020, offset by a gain of 1.5 million subs among virtual multichannel video programing distributors (vMVPDs) such as YouTube TV, Hulu, Philo and fuboTV, according to MoffettNathanson estimates.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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