The major new initiative by Discovery goes live in the U.S. today and will expand globally throughout 2021. At $5 a month ($7 for an ad-free version), the service represents a strategic shift for Discovery. It marks an entry into direct-to-consumer streaming, as opposed to the company’s previous emphasis on internet-delivered bundle distribution and its own network streaming apps available to its pay-TV customers.
The deal gives the new Discovery service access to Roku’s 46 million active accounts. Other streaming services like HBO Max and Peacock have gone live in recent months without Roku deals, incurring backlash from users. Dealmaking with Roku is challenging, however, given the company’s growth and increasing leverage in negotiations over ad inventory and data.
Amazon Fire TV streaming devices, Fire TV Edition smart TVs have also been confirmed as carrying Discovery+, with Amazon’s Prime Video Channels offering it down the line. Other platforms offering the service include iOS, Android, Microsoft Xbox One and Series S/X devices, and 2017 and newer Samsung smart TVs. Verizon, as announced last month, is offering 12 months free of Discovery+ to a large swath of its customers. Earlier this morning, Discovery announced another key distribution agreement with Vodafone spanning 11 European markets as well as the UK.
The 55,000 episodes of TV available on Discovery+ derive from the parent company’s portfolio of cable networks and also include some exclusive originals. Management at the company has not set out a specific subscriber target, but expects to draw “tens of millions” of subscribers over an unspecified timeframe.
“As we go live with discovery+ today in the U.S., we are thrilled to be working with best-in-class partners to make it available everywhere our fans are,” Discovery CEO David Zaslav said. “Our ambition is simple: bring consumers the definitive and most complete destination for real life entertainment at a price point that makes this the perfect companion for every household’s streaming and TV portfolio. There is nothing like it in the market today.”