By Mike Murphy
The company behind “Shark Week,” “House Hunters” and “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” is diving into the streaming wars.
Discovery Inc. /zigman2/quotes/200511275/composite DISCA +3.73% on Wednesday announced that its new streaming service, Discovery+, will launch in the U.S. on Jan. 4, featuring exclusive originals along with programming from its family of cable networks that includes Discovery, HGTV, Food Network and TLC.
The service will cost $4.99 a month, or $6.99 for an ad-free version. Under a partnership, certain Verizon /zigman2/quotes/204980236/composite VZ +0.73% mobile customers will get a free year of the service.
“With Discovery+, we are seizing the global opportunity to be the world’s definitive product for unscripted storytelling,” Discovery CEO David Zaslav said in a statement. “We believe Discovery+ is the perfect complement to every streaming portfolio.”
It could be a tough sell to potential customers though, as the service will find itself competing with a crowded field of streaming rivals, such as Netflix Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202353025/composite NFLX -4.95% , Amazon’s /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN -2.89% Prime Video, Walt Disney Co.’s /zigman2/quotes/203410047/composite DIS -0.87% Hulu and Disney+, AT&T’s /zigman2/quotes/203165245/composite T +1.77% HBO Max, Apple Inc.’s /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL -2.45% Apple+, Comcast’s /zigman2/quotes/209472081/composite CMCSA -0.96% Peacock and ViacomCBS’s /zigman2/quotes/200340870/composite VIAC +3.19% CBS All Access.
Diseovery+ will launch with more than 55,000 episodes of more than 2,500 current and older shows. It plans on having more than 1,000 hours of exclusive content in its first year, including a new series from Chip and Joanna Gaines; “House Hunters: Comedians on Couches Unfiltered,” where comedians snarkily comment as they watch an episode of “House Hunters”; and a “Route 66” travel show hosted by Kevin Hart.
The service has already launched in Ireland and the U.K., and plans to debut in more than 25 additional global markets in 2021, including Brazil and parts of Asia.
Discovery shares rose more than 2% after the announcement Wednesday, but are down 13% year to date, compared to the S&P 500’s /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -1.31% 13.5% gain.