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Discovery Channel Eyes SVOD Platform

26 Jun, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Streaming link would allow basic cable subscribers to access past seasons of original programming before they become available on Netflix

Discovery Communications is considering launching a subscription video-on-demand service that would allow multichannel video program distributor subscribers to access shows less than 18 months after their initial broadcast.

The cable network’s founder, John Hendricks, believes there is an opportunity to generate incremental revenue distributing content from TLC (The Learning Channel), the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet three to 18 months after broadcast, and before dissemination via third-party SVOD platforms such as Netflix.

Discovery would charge cable subs an extra fee ($6 to $8 monthly) to access the programming similar to what HBO does through HBO Go, and ahead of the pay-TV window. The scenario comes as media companies and MVPDs grapple with increasing numbers of consumers opting to get their entertainment from the Internet.

“There will be a little older content, from three months ago let's say, that is available directly through Discovery if you're a cable subscriber," Hendricks told Reuters in an interview.

The SVOD service, which is in the exploratory process, would not operate as a standalone platform like Netflix, but rather as a supplement to basic cable subscribers. Discovery in 2011 signed a license agreement with Netflix that gave the SVOD pioneer access to the network’s coveted reality-based series such as “Man vs. Wild,” “Shark Week,” “Mythbusters” and “River Monsters,” among others.

Such a service would enable Discovery to cash in on subscribers wishing to re-watch the telecast of Nik Wallenda becoming the first person to cross the Grand Canyon on a high wire. Discovery said 13 million people watched the live broadcast.

“Our version of over-the-top would be working with our current distributors. If you were a subscriber to Cox or Comcast and you get the Science channel, you'd be eligible as a Science channel subscriber to be able to get more of our content per month,” said Hendricks, who was Discovery's CEO until 2004.


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