Will You Pay to Stream Comfort Shows? Discovery Is About to Find Out
When Disney + debuted there was a “Star Wars” blockbuster, “The Mandalorian”. When AppleTV + went online it featured a large budget original series starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. Another newcomer to streaming, HBO Max, attracted subscribers with a sequel to Wonder Woman.
Discovery takes a completely different approach with the entry into streaming.
“Almost everyone in the business has chosen screenplay series and screenplay films,” said David Zaslav, managing director of Discovery, in an interview. “They went to the big stars and the red carpet. The big shiny object. “
“We’re not that shiny,” he continued, “and we don’t have a lot of red carpets.”
Discovery +, which goes live on Monday, is based on Homier tariffs – cooking shows, nature shows, home improvement shows, and various other non-written programming from HGTV, the Food Network, TLC, ID, Animal Planet, and the company’s flagship, Discovery.
Mr. Zaslav is betting that people are now ready to subscribe to a streaming service that is filled with things that you can see with one eye while you fold the laundry, pay bills, or scroll through social media. And how much is he willing to bet that people will be willing to pay for a platform that promises a more casual viewing experience?
“We bet on the company they do,” he said.
Discovery + is a late participant in a crowded field. The service – which costs US $ 5 per month with advertising or US $ 7 without advertising – offers 55,000 hours of programming, series such as “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”, “Deadliest Catch”, “Naked & Afraid”, “On.” the case with “Paula Zahn” and “Dr. Pimple popper. “
There will also be many new shows including the American debut of “Judi Dench’s Wild Borneo Adventure” as well as spin-offs from reality standbys such as “90 Day Fiancé”, “Say Yes to the Dress” and “Fixer Upper”. There will also be nature programs from the BBC, the producer of Planet Earth and Blue Planet. And instead of the Kidmans, Streeps, and Baby Yodas that helped create a splash in other new platforms last year, Discovery + has Chip and Joanna Gaines, Guy Fieri, Mike Rowe, and Bobby Flay.
Discovery has grown into a cable giant with this type of programming, series that are suitable for “ambient or genre-based viewing – something to watch when a viewer doesn’t want to see anything special,” said Brian Wieser, a Media analyst and global president for business intelligence at GroupM, a media investment company.
Mr. Zaslav believes that Discovery’s success in the years of channel flipping will be fit for the on-demand era. For much of television history, he noted, network plans have been built on “Passing the Day,” a programming strategy that has fallen somewhat out of favor with media and technology companies in flashy limited-edition series like HBO Max’s “The Undoing” and Netflixs “The Queen’s Gambit.”
“When you wake up and start the ‘Today’ show in the background or on the Food Network, it’s a comfort,” said Zaslav. “You don’t watch ‘The Undoing’ while you’re cooking dinner. But you attract Guy Fieri or ‘Super Soul Sunday’ or ‘Fixer Upper’ or ‘How It’s Made’ or ‘Mythbusters’. “
Mr. Wieser, the analyst, said he was skeptical that a strategy that emphasizes comfort considerations will work for a medium that inspires viewers with one binge-worthy series after another.
“People can stay and watch them randomly flip through the channels and they can enjoy it too,” he said, “but that won’t necessarily make them buy a new subscription.”
However, in the past few months there have been signs that Mr Zaslav’s bet might be on time. In October, the moderators of The Ringer’s podcast “The Watch” discussed their love for “passive television”. In November, The New Yorker noted the “rise of ambient TV” in an essay praising shows that can be seen in the background. And Netflix has broken into the old territory of Discovery with reality series like “Dream Home Makeover”, “Street Food” and “Cleaning Up With Marie Kondo”.
Mr. Zaslav apologized for the late arrival of Discovery + on the grounds that it would make sense for his company to wait for other streaming platforms to do the dirty work of conditioning viewers to pay monthly fees. (An early-stage special offer improves service. Many Verizon customers receive Discovery + free for 12 months.)
The competition will certainly be intense. In addition to Netflix’s foray into non-written programming, Disney + has numerous nature shows. Curiosity Stream, a standalone service that programs nature and nonfiction books, was a success.
Mr. Zaslav remains confident that reality fans will welcome an Old Guard appearance in the streaming group. And he argues that his way of putting shows together – with modest budgets and few big stars – is a successful one regardless of the medium.
“We’re different,” he said. “We have different economies. People see us differently. But they love us just as much. We want to prove that. “