Multichannel programing network Discovery formally announced Wednesday the pending launch of its new premium subscription video on demand streaming app called Discovery+.

The new service is scheduled to launch in the United States on Jan. 4, 2021. Like its cable and satellite channels, content provided through the app will center on non-fiction, real-life, subject matter according to Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav.

Discovery+ will launch in the U.S. with some 55,000 hours of programming, for a fee of $4.99 a month with ads or $6.99 per month for an ad-free version. In addition, as part of what was called a “landmark” partnership, Discovery is teaming with telco service conglomerate Verizon, to give subscribers to various Verizon wireless and fiber TV services a free subscription to Discovery+ for up to 12 months, depending on their plan.

This is somewhat similar to partnerships Verizon made with both Disney and Apple to help drive those companies’ rollouts of Disney+ and Apple TV+, respectively, to certain Verizon customers.

Verizon will help drive viewership of Discovery+ in the U.S. to new and existing subscribers on select plans bringing Discovery+ at fast speeds on 5G Ultra Wideband, 5G Home Internet and Fios services.

At launch, new and existing wireless customers with Play More or Get More Unlimited plans will get 12 months of Discovery+ on Verizon; wireless customers on the Verizon Unlimited plans: Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited, Above Unlimited, Do More Unlimited, and Start Unlimited will get up to 6 months of free Discovery+. Business accounts are not eligible.

Only new customers who sign up for Verizon 5G Home Internet or Fios Gigabit Connection will receive 12 months of Discovery+ on Verizon; new Fios customers may also be eligible for three to six months depending on their plan.

The U.S. launch follows the in-process rollout of Discovery+ across 25 countries, including the U.K., Ireland and India.

Initially, the service will offer more 1,000 hours of original content from 55,000 episodes of more than 50 original series in its first year. The app will pull programming from Discovery’s various channels and brands, including HGTV, Food Network, TLC, ID, OWN, Travel Channel, Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. In addition, a new partnership will bring access to non-fiction content from A&E, The History Channel and Lifetime.

Topics of unscripted programming will span lifestyle and relationships; home and food; true crime; paranormal; adventure; natural history; science, technology, the environment, and a variety of documentaries.

Discovery+ will also offer nature and environmental programming, headlined by exclusive streaming access to the BBC’s large natural history offering, including The Mating Game, Planet Earth and Blue Planet series, plus content from digital-first brand The Dodo.

Other fare will include special content partnerships with top environmental organizations, including The Explorers Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), The Nature Conservancy, Oceana and the World Wildlife Fund.

For advertising to U.S. customers, Discovery+ has signed various sponsorship partners to create organic, innovative ad experiences. Among the initial partners are the Boston Beer Company, Kraft Heinz, Lowe’s and Toyota.

For direct purchase, discovery+ will be available in the US starting at $4.99 per month, with an ad-free version available for $6.99 per month. Each account will include up to five user profiles and four concurrent streams, among the most offered in the streaming video category. At launch, discovery+ will be available across major platforms, including connected TVs, web, mobile and tablets. Verizon customers will receive up to 12 months of discovery+ on select plans.

For the first time, Discovery+ will offer all in one place the definitive collection of science, nature and environmental programming, including the U.S. premiere of the BBC’s A Perfect Planet.

The new five-part series is narrated by Sir David Attenborough and created by the executive producer of Planet Earth. The new series will explain how the living planet functions and evolves via forces of nature including weather, ocean currents, solar energy and volcanoes, and explains how animals are naturally adapted to their environmental conditions.

Discovery+ will also provide exclusive first-looks at shows from Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Network including Fixer Upper: Welcome Home and cooking series Magnolia Table with Joanna Gaines. Also to premiere on the service will be the David Schwimmer-narrated wildlife series Mysterious Planet that was previously announced for the Discovery Channel.

The network did not say if it plans to stream any of the content in 4K Ultra HD or high dynamic range, although much of the content is shot and produced in 4K and has been made available in that high resolution format in the past.

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By Greg Tarr

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