Discovery+ Streaming Service Bows on Comcast Xfinity Flex, and Soon X1

Discovery and Comcast April 8 announced the launch of Discovery+ on Xfinity Flex, providing Xfinity high-speed Internet-only subscribers direct access access to the non-fiction, real-life entertainment streaming service. Discovery+ will also begin rollout to cloud-based X1 streaming devices in the coming weeks.

Xfinity Flex is a 4K streaming device included with Xfinity Internet that extends features of X1 to consumers who only subscribe to Comcast’s broadband service. The platform features an integrated guide to all of their favorite streaming video and music apps, as well as a TV interface to manage their Xfinity Wi-Fi, mobile, security and automation services.

“The launch of Discovery+ on Xfinity Flex, and very soon on X1, gives our customers access to more of the best entertainment from one of the newest streaming services on the market,” Rebecca Heap, SVP of video and entertainment for Comcast Cable, said in a statement.

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Discovery+ ($4.99 monthly; $6.99 without ads) offers more than 55,000 episodes of current and classic shows from HGTV, Food Network, TLC, ID, OWN, Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and the forthcoming Magnolia Network, as well as more than 50 original titles and hundreds of hours of exclusive content. The service also offers reality-based content from A&E, History and Lifetime, as well as the definitive offering of nature and environmental programming, headlined by natural history from the BBC.

 

Flex today and X1 will also have direct-to-consumer apps, Food Network Kitchen and MotorTrend. Food Network Kitchen is a subscription-based service that gives customers access to thousands of recipes and instructional videos; live and on-demand cooking classes with culinary experts and fan-favorite personalities; and inspiration for quick and easy meals. The MotorTrend app provides Comcast subs with thousands of hours of automotive entertainment.

Discovery+ SVOD Expands Service to India

Discovery+, the upstart subscription streaming video service featuring Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, OWN, Travel Channel, Motortrend, Animal Planet, Science Channel, DIY Network, and the Cooking Channel, among others, is entering the Indian market.

The streaming platform March 25 announced availability on Jio streaming media devices. Jio is one of India’s largest wireless carriers. Through the  partnership, Discovery+ will afford Jio high-speed fiber internet users content across 40+ genres such as science, adventure, food, lifestyle, and animation, among others, in multiple languages, including Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Bengali.

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“Our partnership with Jio presents a distinct opportunity to take Discovery+ and its repository of storytelling to deeper pockets of the country,” Issac John, head of direct-to-consumer for APAC at Discovery, said in a statement.

Discovery Network’s shows and specials, include “Into the Wild,” featuring Rajinikanth and Akshay Kumar; “Man vs. Wild,” “Gold Rush,” “Expedition Unknown,” “90 Day Fiancé” and “How the Universe Works,” as well as Indian titles, “Breaking Point,” “Revealed: Rashtrapati Bhavan,” “Himalayan Tsunami” and “India 2050.” Subs will also be able to access discovery+ originals, including “Vande Bharat Flight IX1344: Hope to Survival,” “Secrets of Sinauli,” “Mission Frontline,” “Super Soul” and “Ladakh Warr.”

India has become a hotbed for U.S. streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ —- the latter accounting 30% of its subscribers in India through Disney’s acquisition of streaming platform Hotstar.

Discovery+ Acquires 250 Hours of Reality TV Programming Spanning Four Continents

Discovery+, the subscription streaming VOD service, March 23 announced a multi-territory SVOD deal with distributor All3Media International. The deal calls for more than 250 hours of non-scripted content, including “Race Across the World,” “Naked Attraction,” “The Undateables,” in addition to titles from All3Media International’s Gordon Ramsay portfolio.

Studio Lambert’s adventure series, “Race Across the World,” includes 15 hour-long episodes with SVOD rights signed for North America, India, Italy and Spain. Separately, all four seasons (40 episodes) of Lambert’s dating series, “Naked Attraction,” will be available later this year in North America, and are currently available across multiple international markets, including Norway, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Poland and the Netherlands. Original, local versions of the format also premiered in Italy and Finland, with another set to launch in Norway on Discovery+. And SVOD rights to 11 series — a total of 45 episodes — of award-winning “The Undateables” have been signed for North America, launching later in 2021.

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“Discovery is uniquely positioned to mobilize international streaming growth and provide a global platform for All3’s beloved series, which pair perfectly with our massive library of local-language originals,” Lisa Holme, group SVP of content and commercial strategy at Discovery, said in a statement.

The deal covers North American SVOD rights to 100+ hours of content from Gordon Ramsay portfolio. Titles include two cooking competitions — “Culinary Genius” (U.K.) and five seasons of “The F Word” (U.K.) — as well as six seasons of “Kitchen Nightmares,” two seasons of “Gordon Ramsay’s Great Escape” and three documentaries: Gordon Ramsay Behind BarsGordon Ramsay: Shark Bait and Gordon Ramsay On Cocaine. All titles are now streaming on Discovery+, with the exception of Gordon Ramsay On Cocaine, which is set to launch later this year.

Additional content includes Story Films’ “Generation Porn,” Maverick Television’s “The Elephant Hospital” and North One’s “Ski A&E,” plus specials “Extreme Everest” (Parable) and “The Parachute Murder Plot” (Optomen),  have also been signed. All titles are now streaming on discovery+, with the exception of “Generation Porn,” which is set to launch later this year.

“As the way we consume all genres of content continues to evolve, the roll out of Discovery+ around the world represents a fantastic opportunity to bring premium non-scripted content to a brand-new audience,”  said Sally Habbershaw, EVP Americas at All3Media International.

In addition to dozens of original titles, Discovery+ also features non-fiction content from Warner Bros., A&E, History and Lifetime, as well as from the BBC.

Internationally, Discovery is leveraging its library of local-language content, as well as its broad portfolio of live sports, to drive direct-to-consumer growth offering in more than 25 key markets, including the Nordics, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. A launch in Latin American markets, including Brazil, and in parts of Asia, is pending.

Discovery+ Names Missy Birns-Halperin Head of Talent, Casting

Discovery March 18 appointed Missy Birns-Halperin to the newly created role of head of talent development and casting for the Discovery+ subscription streaming service. Birns-Halperin reports to COO David Leavy in Los Angeles.

Missy Birns-Halperin

In her new role created specifically for Discovery+, Birns-Halperin is responsible for casting celebrity talent worldwide in unscripted discovery+ original series and specials. She will also serve as a liaison, connecting talent with numerous Discovery+ teams, including programming, marketing, development, communications and social good.

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“Missy is one of the industry’s most-respected relationship builders, connectors and creative partners,” Leavy said in a statement. “We hope to attract even more of the world’s top personalities, celebrities and talent to our new streaming service. With Missy leading the effort, our aspirations are for discovery+ to be that trusted home for the world’s biggest stars.”

Prior to joining Discovery, Birns-Halperin served as EVP of global talent strategy for National Geographic Partners, while also bringing high-profile entertainment talent to the brand. Birns-Halperin also spent nearly three decades leading talent relations for the Fox Broadcasting Company.

Discovery, Ellen DeGeneres Ink Content Partnership

Discovery is partnering with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres on a slate of content, including a variety of specials, series, and documentaries. The pact aims to bring the comedian’s “unique” charm, passion and wit both in front of and behind the camera.

DeGeneres’ initial content focus will be on the natural world and the wildlife who inhabit it for both Discovery Channel and Discovery+, the subscription streaming service launched earlier this year.

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First up from Discovery and the BBC Natural History Unit is the doc Endangered, which follows the effort of wildlife conservationists across the globe as they work to compile the latest version of The Red List— a comprehensive record of the state of the world’s wildlife. In addition to serving as an executive producer, DeGeneres also narrates the documentary, the first time she has done so on a project. Endangered is the BBC Studios Natural History Unit’s first non-BBC commission and launches on Discovery+ on Earth Day, April 22.

“Ellen’s dedication to the environment and her love for all animals, including the most endangered creatures who call our planet home, is unmatched,” Nancy Daniels, chief brand officer, Discovery and Factual, said in a statement. “We welcome Ellen and her team to the Discovery family as she brings her humor, her voice, and her ability to inspire to these important passion projects.”

 

CFO: Discovery+ SVOD Strong Out the Gate; Eyeing Tokyo, Beijing Olympics to Jumpstart Euro Debut

Upstart subscription streaming video service Discovery+ ended February with a projected 12 million subscribers since launching Jan. 4. The $4.99 monthly service with ads, $6.99 without, offers streaming access to Discovery’s portfolio of branded programming including Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, MotorTrend, Animal Planet, Science Channel, and the forthcoming multi-platform joint venture with Chip and Joanna Gaines, Magnolia Network, as well as OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network in the United States.

Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels

Speaking March 8 on the virtual Deutsche Bank’s Media, Internet & Telecom Conference, CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels said the SVOD has performed as expected in the U.S., with plans to launch abroad ongoing.

“It’s early days, but everything we’ve seen so far has just been super encouraging,” Wiedenfels said. “Top to bottom there’s not one metric that’s disappointing. The engagement metrics are looking very strong. We’re making more money on our direct-to-consumer subs two months here out of the gate and we have significant growth potential, and I think pricing potential.”

Indeed, the CFO said subscribers have watched an impressive 93% of the platform’s 55,000-episode content offering.

“It’s all super encouraging,” Wiedenfels said, adding that more than 100 advertising brands are on the platform — a tally that is expected to double in a couple months. “We’re already seeing beyond what we saw in the linear TV world in terms of viewer time and our subscriber base.”

Notably, the bulk of Discovery+ subs are enrolled in the ad-free tier — largely due to the Verizon marketing tie-in that mandates the more -expensive pricing option following a 12-month trial period.

Rollout of the platform internationally includes partnerships with Sky in the U.K., Vodafone, Saudi Telecom, etc. These deals are expected to materialize in the second quarter over a 12-month period, according to Wiedenfels.

“The Olympics [Tokyo Summer and Beijing Winter] should be one the key drivers for the international rollout this year,” he said. “We’ll see the order of magnitude, but we’re very excited about it.”

International streaming expansion has already been started by Discovery’s former Dplay video-on-demand platform that has been transformed into Discovery+. The media giant operated Dplay in Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Nordic countries and Spain.

The streaming platform is eyeing 70 million U.S. homes, and 400 million internationally. Global rollout would focus on wireless distribution via portable devices.

“We’re not talking about 700 million TV homes, we’re talking billions of connected devices,” Wiedenfels said. “Total expansion of our addressable markets.”

The CFO said rollout of the service would take longer due to individual country challenges, including timelines and existing distribution deals. Wiedenfels doesn’t think there will be a drop in linear carriage agreements with the advent of streaming video.

“We should be able to find win-win common ground in partnerships,” he said. “We have to acknowledge that the landscape is changing. These discussions are now one notch more complicated than they used to be [due to streaming]. I feel very good about and our [linear] partners are very excited.”

CEO: Discovery+ Streaming Service Expected to Reach 12 Million Subscribers by End of February

Discovery’s nascent branded subscription streaming VOD service, Discovery+, finished the fourth quarter and fiscal year (ended Dec. 31, 2020) with 11 million subscribers. The platform, which launched Jan. 4, is expected to end February with 12 million subs, CEO David Zaslav disclosed in a fiscal briefing.

CEO David Zaslav

The $4.99 monthly service offers streaming access to Discovery’s portfolio of branded programming including Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, MotorTrend, Animal Planet, Science Channel, and the forthcoming multi-platform joint venture with Chip and Joanna Gaines, Magnolia Network, as well as OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network in the U.S.

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“We are off to a promising start in 2021 with the successful launch of Discovery Plus … underscoring the value of the investments we’ve made in content, personalities and brands, supported by industry-leading DTC capabilities,” Zaslav said in a statement.

Discovery Names Ex-Hulu Exec Spagnoletto Global Chief Marketing Officer For Direct-to-Consumer

Discovery Feb. 17 announced that Patrizio Spagnoletto will join the company as global chief marketing officer, direct-to-consumer. Spagnoletto will be based in Los Angeles and report to the CEO of Discovery International, JB Perrette, in his role helping to operationalize Discovery’s direct-to-consumer activities.

Patrizio Spagnoletto

Spagnoletto joins Discovery as the company scales its recently launched subscription streaming service, Discovery+, globally. In this newly created position, Spagnoletto will play a key leadership role helping market Discovery+ around the world. He will oversee a unified global marketing team seeks to consumer drive adoption of the SVOD across North America, EMEA, LATAM and APAC, and have broad responsibilities for subscriber acquisition, retention and growth, media and analytics, brand awareness, marketing creative development and strategy, and consumer insights.

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In addition to the focused marketing team, Spagnoletto will also work in close partnership with U.S. networks and local international marketing teams to leverage all of Discovery’s assets to drive Discovery+.

“Patrizio helped Hulu more than triple subscribers during his tenure and has experience with direct-to-consumer entertainment, sports and linear channels, which is a perfect match for our different Discovery+ offerings around the world,” Perrette said in a statement. “We have enormous ambition for Discovery+ and believe he is uniquely qualified to help us scale globally.”

Spagnoletto most recently served as head of marketing for Hulu, where he oversaw the company’s marketing efforts and was critical in the impressive subscriber growth across both the SVOD and live TV businesses. He led a team of marketers responsible for creating and executing campaigns and events across brand, creative, subscriber growth and consumer research.

Interpret: Discovery+ Fills Strong Niche

Discovery Channel’s new Discovery+ streaming service, which launched Jan. 4 in the United States, is filling a strong niche, according to Interpret research.

Available for $5 per month with a commercial-free version at $7 per month, the platform not only offers shows from Discovery Channel, with more than 55,000 episodes at launch, but also content from Discovery-owned HGTV, TLC, Food Network, Animal Planet, OWN and more. Discovery also has partnerships with BBC, A&E, Group Nine and others to provide additional content.

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“Discovery’s portfolio of channels offers an array of science, reality and non-fiction programming, providing it with a unique niche of content that is differentiated from Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock or other broadcast and cable TV network-oriented streaming services,” according to Interpret.

Interpret’s New Media Measure found that this type of content is popular, with viewership of Discovery’s portfolio of channels ranging from 7% to 20% of pay-TV subscribers.

“Discovery is betting that those same people will happily pay $5 per month, particularly if they leave traditional pay-TV,” according to Interpret.

Discovery+ is already available in the United Kingdom and Ireland and intends to roll out to 25 international markets this year. A promotion from Verizon provides as much as one year free of Discovery+ to its wireless customers.

Discovery+ Launches in MENA Territories Via Starzplay

Discovery has formed a strategic partnership with the Starzplay SVOD service to launch its SVOD service Discovery+ across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) territories.

The deal allows Starzplay subscribers to watch Discovery+ content within a dedicated branded area across all Starzplay platforms in 18 countries and territories across MENA.

The Discovery+ service features a range of exclusive content and series across lifestyle and relationships; home and food; true crime; paranormal; adventure and natural history; science, tech and environment; and many high-quality documentaries.

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“The launch of discovery+ across MENA represents a major step toward adding 18 additional countries and territories to the global expansion of the platform, giving customers options to access the content that they love and have come to expect from Discovery,” Kasia Kieli, Discovery president and MD EMEA, said in a statement.

“The unprecedented growth of online streaming has driven the need for compelling content that provides value for subscribers,” Maaz Sheikh, CEO and co-founder of Starzplay, said in a statement. “We have built strategic partnerships to offer our subscribers more online content and varied choices We are confident that the discovery+ add on will be welcomed by the MENA audience and we look forward to growing this partnership further.”

Global Discovery+ franchises include “Shark Week,” “MythBusters,” “Gold Rush,” “Expedition Unknown,” “House Hunters International,” “90 Day Fiancé,” “NASA’s Unexplained Files” and “Say Yes to the Dress.” Subscribers also have access to Discovery+ originals, including “The Impossible Row,” “Amy Schumer Learns to Cook (Uncensored)” and “JonBenet Ramsey: What Really Happened?”

Additionally, Discovery+ will offer programs from the home of Arabic cooking, Fatafeat, along with a collection of environmental programming with access to the BBC’s natural history library, including “Planet Earth” and “Blue Planet.”

Discovery+ is available for an additional subscription price.