Discovery unveiled its new streaming service on Wednesday, Discovery+, which like several other new streaming platforms will offer a lighter ad load than traditional TV and opportunities to customize the commercial experience.
The cable giant has struck a deal with launch sponsors, which include Boston Beer Company, Kraft Heinz, Lowe’s and Toyota. Similar to NBCUniversal’s Peacock, launch sponsors will be awarded the opportunity to help craft the ad experience on the platform. It also the model the now defunct Quibi adopted upon its debut.
Discovery+ will launch on Jan. 4 in the U.S. with two tiers; an “Ad Lite” subscription for $4.99 a month and an ad-free option for $6.99 a month. Discovery+ will also be available for free to Verizon customers for one year due to a distribution agreement.
Discovery says ads will be customized based on the show a viewer is watching. “With a lower ad load, we are able to serve more personalized ads that are not only endemic to the programming they appear in, but that are more relevant to our subscribers,” said Karen Leever, president of U.S. digital products and marketing at Discovery during the company’s launch event.
The company did not provide specifics on the ad load.
Leever said Discovery+ would use proprietary technology to connect advertisers with audiences across all platforms to “dramatically” increase both the scale and reach of advertising.
The new streaming service will include shows from across the cable giant’s portfolio, including HGTV, Food Network, TLC, and Animal Planet, as well as original content exclusively for Discovery+. It will also include non-fiction content from A+E Networks’ channels like Lifetime, A&E and History, as well as early access to content from Magnolia, the new cable network from HGTV’s Chip and Joanna Gaines.
The service will differentiate itself from an already crowded streaming market by focusing on “unscripted content, driven by real-life characters, loved brands, and exceptional storytelling,” said David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery, Inc. during a virtual launch event for the platform.
Discovery says the new streaming service does not mean it will sacrifice its traditional, linear TV offerings. “We are also acutely aware of the importance of our linear distribution, and we will nourish both platforms,” said Gunnar Wiedenfels, chief financial officer at Discovery. “Despite the obvious secular headwinds, we have never been more confident in our position on traditional linear platforms as our core business is stronger than ever, with respect to both advertising as well as distribution.”
Wiedenfels added that “Our strong endemic brands and uninterrupted slate of fresh content at a time when competitors have turned to repeats, has positioned us solidly behind increasingly strong advertising demand for our verticals.”
Discovery’s newest entrant into the streaming wars comes as streaming-video-on-demand services gain ground during the pandemic. But the landscape has certainly become more crowded and the quick death of Quibi showed not all platforms will survive.