Discovery+ to Join Streaming Wars With January Launch

President and CEO, Discovery, Inc. David Zaslav - Getty - H 2020
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The service from Discovery will cost $5 per month with ads and $7 per month without ads.

Over the past two years, Disney, WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal have all laid out their streaming strategies for investors during elaborate presentations. On Wednesday, Dec. 2, it was Discovery's turn.

The cable television stalwart hosted a virtual investor day in which it unveiled plans for direct-to-consumer offering Discovery+. The service — which will bow Jan. 4 — will cost $5 per month with ads and $7 per month without ads, the company revealed.

Discovery+ will combine programming from across the conglomerate's brands, including HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Animal Planet and OWN. It will also include programming from A&E Networks channels A+E, History and Lifetime. The company says the offering will give subscribers access to more than 55,000 episodes of over 2,500 shows.

CEO David Zaslav, sporting a navy blue vest with the Discovery+ logo, promised that the service will set itself apart in the crowded streaming market by focusing on unscripted programming. "We are different," he said. "We are convinced that Discovery+ will stand out."

In addition to its library of past and current shows, Discovery+ promises to debut new unscripted originals every week. That includes a preview of programming coming to lifestyle superstars Chip and Joanna Gaines' Magnolia Network, which will launch later in 2021. Discovery+ will introduce viewers to a reboot of signature series Fixer Upper: Welcome Home and to new show Magnolia Table With Joanna Gaines, among other projects.

The service also plans to launch three 90 Day Fiancé companion series; food programming from personalities including Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, Carla Hall and Ludacris; and nature shows featuring David Schwimmer and Mike Rowe. The company has also tapped Girls Trip producer Will Packer and Kevin Hart for Route 66, a road trip series that will take the comedian from Chicago to L.A.

In Europe, meanwhile, Discovery+ will also be the streaming home to the Olympic Games.

Discovery+ will launch in 25 countries within its first year, including the Nordics, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain. The service already began rolling out to subscribers in the U.K. and Ireland through Discovery's partnership with Sky, which is offering the service to its subscribers for 12 months at no additional cost.

In the U.S., Discovery is taking a page out the Disney+ playbook, teaming up with Verizon to offer a year's subscription for free to some of the telecom giant's customers.

In recent years, legacy television businesses have come to realize just how imperative it is to have a direct-to-consumer strategy as they have watched cable subscribers flee the bundles in favor of à la carte memberships with Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. But streaming took on even greater importance this year as the novel coronavirus pandemic ravaged the entertainment industry, forcing studios to shutter productions and putting a months-long pause on live sports.

Discovery is launching its streaming counterpart much later than its rivals. Disney+ has a 14-month head start and has already amassed more than 70 million subscribers. Netflix, meanwhile, remains the streaming leader with 195 million global subscribers.

The company is eying a U.S. market of around 70 million homes. It already has around 5 million subscribers worldwide to its existing subscription products.