Discovery Inc. Plans December Curtain-Raiser on New Streaming Service


Discovery has been talking about an international streaming service since 2019. Now, executives have signaled they will finally lift the curtain on the anticipated service to investors in early December.

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In a quarterly earnings call with investors today, Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav said that the lifestyle-heavy television brand was near-finalizing its plans for its anticipated streamer and would share more next month. Company executives have privately referred to the service as Discovery+, although the official name of the streamer hasn’t been confirmed.

“Our plans for an aggregated direct-to-consumer offering have come into clear focus, and we look forward to providing a look at our product, roadmap and go-to-market strategy in early December,” Zaslav said. “…We have a definitive path to driving engagement and scale, an unparalleled library of loved brands and personality-driven content, which will support a roster of exclusive and windowed content, all culminating in a platform that is global in focus and local in appeal.”

The service may also take a page out of other streamers’ playbooks with a house-of-brands approach. Zaslav expressed admiration for Disney+’s “quite clever” and “little bit retro” approach of having brand-specific hubs. “I’m an old cable guy, and when people watch cable, it works because of curation,” he said. “Everyone has their favorite six channels.”

While some of the details, including its ad strategy and price point, remain under wraps, Zaslav said that the streamer would be focused on leveraging the company’s global footprint and localizing depending on the market the service is operating in. It will also likely be a mix of ad-supported and subscription-based tiers, although the company is working on striking the right balance between both.

The comments provide a small peek behind the curtain for plans about the anticipated streaming service that investors and marketers have been eyeing as new services from Disney, WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal all enter the fray and seek to attract consumer eyeballs and, in some cases, advertiser dollars. It’s also a sign of the growing importance of building global services, as U.S. growth does not offer the scale that most mass media companies ultimately seek.

For Discovery, the global focus is already evident in the company’s shifting approach abroad: The company has entered into distribution deals in Norway, Sweden and the U.K. that give the company more flexibility to enter the direct-to-consumer business in those markets. In the U.K. this month, consumers will be introduced to an aggregated offering, Discovery+, which will be available to subscribers of British broadcaster Sky’s subscription TV and entertainment service, Sky Q.

Worldwide, Discovery has looked to keep ownership of its own content “for a long time,” Zaslav said, laying the groundwork for the streamer. The company will also explore the ability to add local sports and local news in certain markets, to continue to differentiate it from other streamers whose libraries are in some cases dominated by scripted series and movies.

“The real advantage that we think we have is you have mostly big U.S services with a little bit of local,” Zaslav said. “We have dramatic local—local entertainment, we have all our brands and cable content in language in 200 countries, and all throughout Europe we have local sports. …We have an extensive library as well as the real local elements, and as you look at all the other players, they have a huge disadvantage here. We think we are at a significant advantage.”

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