Today’s launch day for “Discovery Plus,” a new streaming app that hopes to compete for your money. It’s another app in what I call the “CBS All Access” mold… charging a few dollars a month for access to shows you probably would have gotten on cable or satellite otherwise. Is it for you? Should you subscribe? Let’s look at the facts.
Let’s start with, “Who is Discovery”
Discovery, Inc, is a global company the provides programming for cable and satellite services. Since starting their first channel in 1985, they’ve grown to encompass a ton of other channels. In 2017, they grew significantly by purchasing Scripps, another competing programming service. Seriously, here are the channels they provide just in the United States alone:
- Discovery Channel
- Food Network
- Animal Planet
- Travel Channel
- Investigation Discovery
- Oprah Winfrey Network
- Science Channel
- Discovery Family
- Motor Trend
- Cooking Channel
- DIY Network
- Great American Country
- American Heroes Channel
- Discovery Life
- Destination America
- Discovery en Español
- Discovery Familia
- Hogar de HGTV
Yes that’s a lot of channels, but…
Many of these channels share common programming. You’ll see the same content on Discovery and Science, and sometimes on HGTV and DIY. This harkens back to the days when the majority of people watched live, so it made sense to run the same show multiple times a day across several channels.
Discovery Channel, once the unquestioned jewel in the crown, has faded somewhat since its heyday when it was known for entertaining and informative shows like Dirty Jobs and Mythbusters. On the other hand, HGTV seems utterly ascendant, broadcasting (I am not making this up) over 35 hours a week of its popular House Hunters franchise alone. People may not be spending time in others’ homes, but they certainly are happy to look at them on TV.
In fact, it’s been said that HGTV is one of the biggest reasons people stay with traditional cable and satellite, since its content hasn’t been available on streaming services for the most part.
Of course that ends today. The launch of Discovery Plus brings all that stuff and more to cord-cutters. But is it for you?
Hey, let’s spit in the face of pay-TV subscribers
Yeah, that tells you how I feel about Discovery Plus right now. As I write this, it looks like pay-TV subscribers won’t get access to Discovery Plus. Yes, they can still use the “Go” apps like Discovery Go and HGTV Go, but these are fairly thin, content-wise, and chock full of unskippable ads.
It’s basically as if HBO subscribers couldn’t get access to HBO Max and had to pay $15 a month for just the “Max Originals.” No, Discovery isn’t charging that much. You’ll pay $5 a month with non-skippable ads or $7 a month ad-free. You get a lot of catalog content and a few originals, similar to what Peacock has done.
Really I see this as a move on Discovery’s part to stick it to pay-TV companies like AT&T and DISH. By taking their programming straight to the end user, they will continue to devalue the programming on their pay-TV channels. While this does mean that pay-TV companies will probably have the upper hand in the next round of contract negotiations, I don’t think Discovery, Inc will care.
If you are a current pay-TV subscriber, you should probably skip Discovery Plus unless you’re really excited about their originals. There isn’t a lot of reason to pay $60 a year or more for a few shows, not when cable and satellite provide so much more value.