Discovery Q4 Preview: Early Data Suggests Slow Start for Discovery+

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Cheyne Gateley/VIP

Investors will be keen to gather any details on how one of the newest entrants into the streaming wars, Discovery+, is performing when Discovery reports its Q4 earnings results on Monday.  

After all, Discovery’s stock already rose more than 40% from the beginning of 2021 to early February in part due to expectations that Discovery+ will boost revenuesBloomberg recently reported.  

And while it’s possible Discovery management will unveil a Discovery+ metric that will excite investors, it seems likely that the company will have less to say about the streamer’s performance to date than Wall Street is hoping for.  

That’s because the signs so far since Discovery+’s January 4 U.S. launch seem to mostly point toward Discovery’s new SVOD still being in the “early days” phase of its rollout. 

Discovery+ launched with 50 originals, more than streamers like Disney+ and Apple TV+ launched with, though none have yet seemed to really penetrate the zeitgeist.  

For example, no Discovery+ originals were among the top 100 streaming originals from January 1-February 15 across the major U.S. video streaming services when measured by total impressions, according to data provided exclusively to Variety Intelligence Platform by TV and CTV engagement metrics firm TVision 

TVision measures viewing across all major U.S. SVODs (including Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Peacock, CBS All Access and Discovery+) and AVODs (including YouTube, the Roku Channel, Pluto TV, Tubi). The metrics company tracks viewing of nearly 25,000 titles among 5,000 households (14,000 individuals) across the U.S. on connected TVs. 

Moreover, TVision’s data showed that from January 1 to February 15, 1% of the time spent using streaming devices across all measured homes was spent on the Discovery+ app.

Sure, 1% of measured homes is still considerable for an app that just launched, but that figure is still smaller than the comparable ones for previously launched streamers like HBO Max (4%), which lends further credence to the theory Discovery+ hasn’t suddenly blasted off out the gate. 

This isn’t all to say Discovery+ is set to fail already. Discovery does have a deal with Verizon in place that gives select customers a free year of Discovery+similar to the Verizon deal that helped Disney+ grow.  

Additionally, Discovery+ has seemed to impress at least a few in the media field who could act as megaphones to vouch for the new streamer.  

Aside from word-of-mouthDiscovery+ could have its profile boosted via ad campaigns. It has already spent nearly $34 million in 2021 across digital ads on Instagram, Twitter and mobile/desktop display/video, per Pathmatics 

Discovery+ had already spent over $8 million on digital ads in 2020, according to Pathmatics. That figure was tiny in comparison to the other major U.S. SVODs, though that’s to be expected since Discovery+ only launched in the U.S. this year.  

At this point you may be wondering if it’s even reasonable to expect a big announcement from Discovery+ about a month-and-a-half from launch, but remember Disney+ had already announced it had reached 10 million subscribers the day after it launched in 2019.  

Let’s just hope Discovery spares us by not only reporting some rolled-up subscriber metric that includes the subscriber count of Discovery+ and its other streamers like Food Network Kitchen and MotorTrend OnDemand. 

The other media congloms have already inflicted enough pain on us by almost reporting standalone subscriber counts of their new streamers.