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December 2, 2020 |

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Discovery+ will rival Netflix & Disney+ globally, says CEO David Zaslav

David Zaslav

Discovery CEO David Zaslav says new streamer Discovery+ will rival Disney+ and Netflix’s global dominance by using its international networks and content library to create a “dominant and compelling” service.

The factual giant unveiled the global streamer yesterday with more than 1,000 hours of exclusive programming, alongside more than 55,000 existing episodes and content deal with BBC Studios and A+E Networks.

It costs $4.99 per month as an ad-supported service or $6.99 per month without ads in the US, and is set to be rolled out around the world in the coming months, following the launch of its UK service last month.

A Perfect Planet

Netflix & Disney+ competitor

In an investors call following the streamer’s formal unveiling, Zaslav said he was confident the streamer would sit alongside existing global services such as Disney+ and Netflix by offering a differentiated product for viewers.

“I don’t think we could be in a better position. There are other great services but we are completely different, we’ve strengthened and we own real-life and non-fiction which is very compelling,” he said.

“As [US media veteran] Barry Diller said to me, non-fiction is out there for the taking, and if we could own it we could really be a competitive service not just to Netflix but globally – and that’s the ambition, that’s what we want to be and that’s what we are.”

He added that “unlike other services”, Discovery was launching with a library that was already as big as Netflix’s in most countries, and with talent on board, such as Fixer Upper hosts Chip and Jo Gaines, and David Attenborough.

Zaslav said the streamer would be “fully global” and, he believed, would grow to become “very, very big”, capitalising on launching at a time when swathes of viewers in the US and elsewhere are locked down because of the pandemic.

“That’s one of the reasons why we wanted to push this and launch in January, to get into the marketplace,” he added.

Sex Tape

Non-fiction focus, leveraging linear & Sex Tape

The streamer is also looking to lean heavily on its existing global operations, including commissioning locally. Its UK service, which was launched last month, has already handed out 80 hours of original orders and numerous territory-focused commissions are in the works.

They include a Dutch version of ITV Studios (ITVS) social experiment format Sex Tape, which has been ordered by Discovery+ in the Netherlands and is to be produced by ITVS Netherlands. It will be released exclusively on Discovery+ in 2021.

JB Perrette, Discovery Networks International (DNI) president and CEO, said that the focus would be on combining Stateside content and commissioning locally, with series being fed to the service globally.

“Internationally, there’s a real opportunity to take all that incredible US pipeline and then supercharge it with local stories and brands,” he added.

Zaslav added that existing international networks would be a key tool to drive subscriptions for the streamer, adding that the “ability to promote [via Discovery’s channels] is a very unique advantage.”

He also pointed to Netflix’s launch of a linear channel in France as an indicator of the medium’s ongoing influence. “Viewers might hear these channels are in decline but for us they are a very compelling business, operating at a level in terms of economics that we haven’t seen in a long time.

“Netflix bought a channel so they can let people know about what’s on its service and then buy it – but we have 10 or 12 in every country, in every language and many are free to air. The efficiencies are unprecedented.”

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