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John Hendricks, Founder of Discovery Channel, Launches Internet Subscription VOD Service

John Hendricks — a pioneer in the cable TV programming world who founded Discovery Channel — is launching an Internet-based video-on-demand subscription service with a slate of nonfiction content akin to what he used for the cabler’s debut 30 years ago.

CuriosityStream is an advertising-free SVOD service, with content comprising a mix of original series and licensed shows. It’s slated to debut March 18, 2015, with about 800 video titles.

“The advent of online-streaming technology utilized by Netflix and other successful video-streaming services has created a video transmission infrastructure that finally allows viewers to watch what they want to watch, when they want to watch it,” Hendricks, also formerly chairman of Discovery Communications, said in a statement. “For consumers, our aim is to provide the first and best on-demand video streaming destination that aggregates and curates the world’s best factual content.”

Hendricks stepped down as chairman of Discovery Communications last year.

CuriosityStream will be available in four packages: standard definition for $2.99 per month; 720 HD resolution for $3.99 per month, 1080 HD resolution for $5.99 per month and 4K at $9.99 per month.

Hendricks is chairman of the new company launching the service, Curiosity Project LLC, which has offices and studios located in Silver Spring, Md. (where Discovery Communications is based).

CuriosityStream has commissioned several documentary series and short-form programming in 4K resolution format, including “Big Picture Earth,” a 20-part series to be produced by David Conover, the filmmaker behind “Sunrise Earth” (one of the early programs on Discovery’s original HD network). Two other originals — “Deep Time History,” tracing great people and events of history along with their geologic and geographic underpinnings, and “Digits,” a history of computers and the Internet — which will be available in North America only on CuriosityStream.

Licensed programming comes from partners including France’s ZED, Flame Distribution, Terra Noa, Japan’s NHK and BBC Worldwide. In addition, short-form content of less than eight minutes in length will comprise a significant part of the CuriosityStream library. Its in-house Curiosity Studios conducts about 20 video interviews monthly with different experts and notable names, including Deepak Chopra, Sheryl WuDunn and Michio Kaku.

The Curiosity Project’s management team includes president Elizabeth Hendricks North, who is John’s daughter; Steve Burns, exec VP of content production and acquisition, who is a former Discovery and National Geographic exec; Richard Sergay, a former ABC News producer, who serves as the interview host for Curiosity Studios and as a senior consultant for Curiosity Project’s partnerships and acquisitions; and Carrie Hurlburt, VP of creative, who previously worked at Discovery.

The Curiosity Project’s engineering and software team developed the CuriosityStream streaming infrastructure with partners including Limelight Networks, which will provide content hosting and delivery. The SVOD service will be available on an array of connected devices, including desktop PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones, Apple TV, Roku, and Google Chromecast.

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