Discovery+ Isn’t Waiting Quietly for the WarnerMedia Merger

The introduced merger between Discovery and AT&T’s WarnerMedia would convey collectively large media manufacturers — Warner Bros. and Property Brothers, Deadwood and Deadliest Catch, Sesame Street and Sister Wives — with HBO Max and Discovery+ doubtless combining right into a single streamer to compete globally with Netflix, Disney and Amazon.

No time quickly, although. The mixed firm, which execs are calling Warner Bros. Discovery, can be the third-largest international media firm behind Disney and Netflix, however AT&T and Discovery execs don’t count on regulators to approve the deal until mid-2022.

Discovery can have its fingers full in the meantime:

  • Magnolia Network, a three way partnership with Fixer Upper hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines, launches on Discovery+ and a brand new app on July 15 and on cable in January 2022.
  • Eurosport, Discovery’s European sports activities community, will broadcast the Tokyo Olympics dwell throughout most of Europe in July and August.
  • Discovery’s cable networks and Discovery+ will premiere a huge slate of latest and returning originals this yr, together with 60-plus new titles introduced at its upfront presentation.
  • Discovery appears to be like to develop its 15 million (principally Discovery+) streaming subscribers to 34 million subscribers by the finish of 2022, in keeping with RBC Capital Markets analyst Kutgun Maral.

“I’m extraordinarily optimistic,” Discovery CEO David Zaslav stated throughout Discovery’s current quarterly earnings name. “We’ve gotten off to a great start with Discovery+, exceeding our expectations, and are effectively managing through a dynamic, fluid and exciting a time as I have ever seen in my many years in the media business.”

Zaslav will run the mixed firm if the deal is accepted by regulators. For now, three of the large focuses for Discovery+ are Magnolia Network, customization, and dwell channels. Here’s a more in-depth have a look at how these three areas will evolve over the subsequent yr.

Magnolia Network Has Breakout Potential

New cable networks are out of trend in the streaming period, however Magnolia Network is launching with each cable and streaming households in thoughts. The way of life community will launch as a devoted tab on Discovery+ and as freestanding Magnolia app on July 15 after which as a cable rebrand of DIY in January 2022.

Magnolia Network is constructing exhibits round a core group of designers, cooks, gardeners, artists, and many others., with an enormous emphasis on story and a documentary appear and feel. From watching the two Magnolia Network: A Look Ahead preview specials and the first episodes of many upcoming exhibits, my expectations are extraordinarily excessive.

Together in Fixer Upper: Welcome Home, Chip and Joanna Gaines are leads in a screwball comedy. (He’s a goofy extrovert; she’s a wry taskmaster.) Separately — Chip coaching for a marathon in The Courage to Run, Joanna cooking her household historical past in Magnolia Table — they eschew the performative pluck of most HGTV and Food Network hosts for empathetic, stripped-down storytelling.

Magnolia Network can have the typical way of life codecs — cooking (Ranch to Table, Zoë Bakes), dwelling renovation (Mind for Design, First Time Fixer), uplifting docuseries (The Lost Kitchen, The Courage to Run) — however the community’s improvement staff has targeted on relatability, aspiration, and narrative-building over theme songs and stagey presentation.

A superb instance of that keep-it-real strategy is Ranch to Table, the place Elizabeth Poett doesn’t a lot host as do with a digicam crew in tow. She cooks and narrates with the straightforward class of a Kenyon College grad who labored in MTV’s documentary unit, however she’s completely snug loading hay bails right into a pickup truck on the household cattle ranch the place she grew up.

Decider’s Meghan O’Keefe has been profiling upcoming Magnolia exhibits, together with Home Work (household renovates an old style constructing right into a household dwelling) and Van Go (kooky man turns vans into cellular properties). The community’s programming lineup is deep with 20 or so exhibits premiering round launch and extra coming over the remainder of 2021 and into the cable launch in January 2022.

How Do You Sort Through 55,000 TV Episodes?

Half of U.S. households subscribe to 4 or extra streamers, in keeping with a December survey by J.D. Power, and you’ll cancel one at any time with just a few clicks. That offers a an enormous benefit to streamers with deep catalogs, a gentle provide of latest titles, a straightforward person expertise, and a dependable suggestions engine.

Discovery+ launched in January with 55,000 episodes from Food Network, HGTV, TLC, Investigation Discovery, OWN, Travel Channel, and many others., plus extra that fifty new, unique titles. Discovery+ segments that big library into curiosity areas that you would be able to navigate by style, cable community, editorial suggestions, and algorithmic suggestions.

From launch till now, the suggestions on Discovery+ have been extra editorial-driven than algorithmic-driven, says Michael Bishara, the streamer’s lead U.S. exec. This summer season, the streamer will begin shifting towards towards extra algorithmic-driven personalization that will get higher the extra you watch.

“The network hubs, the ordering of the genres, and the rows below that will become customized,” Bishara stated in an interview with Decider. “That will also begin to vary more depending on day part and device. Those things will all be very data-driven.”

Discovery+ subscribers have already watched greater than 93% of the 55,000-episode catalog, Bishara stated. Users are discovering hidden gems and deep-catalog exhibits like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (39 seasons) and Ghost Adventures (23 seasons). My spouse and I are 100-plus episodes into TLC’s 90 Day Fiancé franchise, and we’ve nonetheless bought an extended strategy to go.

“In the second half of the year,” Bishara stated, “we’re looking to add parental controls, we’re looking to enable downloads, we’ll expand to some additional devices, and we’ll continue expanding the use of personalization and recommendation capabilities.”

Sometimes You Just Want to Watch ‘House Hunters’

Discovery+ launched with out full seasons of Food Network’s Chopped, HGTV’s House Hunters, and different titles that Discovery had beforehand licensed completely to Hulu. As a workaround, Discovery+ started streaming these exhibits on 11 “live” channels of 24/7 content material which are obtainable from a row in the streamer’s interface.

Those channels don’t make a lot sense for serialized titles like 90 Day Fiancé, however they’re nice for episodic exhibits like Chopped and House Hunters. (90 Day Fiancé moved completely to Discovery+ in early May, and the different exhibits will doubtless comply with over time.)

I don’t get the attract of 24/7 channels for catalog exhibits — who desires to begin at the 14th minute of a random episode of Property Brothers? — however they’re well-liked with shoppers who wish to click on by a channel grid and rapidly discover one thing to observe. IMDb TV, Roku Channel, Samsung TV Plus, Peacock, and Pluto TV all closely emphasize 24/7 channels of their person experiences, and Pluto TV has grown from 20 million to 50 million month-to-month lively customers in simply the final 18 months.

Discovery+ sees worth in its 24/7 channels past a licensing workaround. Amazon’s Fire TV platform has a devoted Live tab that integrates paid streamers, free streamers, and broadcast channels. If you will have a Fire TV machine and subscribe to Discovery+ by Amazon’s Prime Video Channels, the 11 Discovery+ channels will probably be obtainable to stream in your Live tab.

Scott Porch writes about the TV enterprise for Decider. He is a contributing author for The Daily Beast and produces the Must Watch streaming podcast. You can comply with him on Twitter @ScottPorch.

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