Discovery+ Streaming Service Delivers Content from Discovery Channel, Food Network, HGTV, and Much More
To be honest, the last thing I need is another streaming service. Between the two of us, my girlfriend and I already subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, and a cable-TV-replacement service that Spectrum offers for cord-cutters. Via Amazon, we have add-on channels from Masterpiece, BritBox, and Acorn TV. Periodically we’ll add Starz, Showtime, or Epix, when appealing new content is available. It’s hard to keep track of it all, and those monthly fees really add up. So when Discovery+ launched at the beginning of this year, I planned on letting it pass me by. Discovery Inc. has become a powerhouse in the world of cable TV over the last two-and-a-half decades, and a few of my favorite shows are produced under the Discovery umbrella. But my Spectrum streaming subscription already gives me access to some content from Discovery’s flagship networks, like HGTV and Food Network. Surely that would be enough, right? I began to rethink this position a couple of months ago when Alton Brown announced that new episodes of his show Good Eats: The Return would be available exclusively on Discovery+. The original Good Eats show launched on Food Network when I was 16 years old, and just beginning to cook for myself. Brown’s unique program aimed to combine a Julia-Child-style cooking show with food-science and history education, all strung together by wacky sketches and comedic narratives, inspired — according to Alton himself — by Monty Python. I’ve been hooked since 1999, and have watched every season of every iteration of Good Eats. (Aside from music and audio, my other biggest hobby is baking. It’s entirely likely that I never would have become so interested in cooking and baking if it hadn’t been for Good Eats.) And so, somewhat grudgingly, I decided to see what else Discovery+ had to offer. I’m certainly not above subscribing to a service to watch just one show — I originally got HBO just to watch Game of Thrones — but I’m not proud of that fact. Luckily, another of my favorite shows is also on offer: a home renovation show called Restored, which follows a restoration expert and architect named Brett Waterman, who looks like a cowboy and talks like a surfer dude. In each episode, he meets new clients, and carefully restores their old home to its former glory, with a focus on improving functionality while staying respectful to the original materials and architectural style that would have been present in the home when it was first built. Restored airs on DIY Network — a channel that’s conspicuously absent from my Spectrum package. If I wanted to get DIY (or the Cooking Channel) via Spectrum, I’d have to pay a monthly surcharge that’s higher than the cost of a Discovery+ subscription. Discovery+ is among the cheapest video streaming services, costing just $4.99 per month with ads, or $6.99 per month, ad-free. You can also purchase six months ($41.75) or a full year ($83.75) of ad-free access to give as a gift. A free seven-day trial is available for new users. Some Verizon customers get a FREE one year subscription to Discovery+. If you’re a Verizon Wireless Unlimited subscriber, or if you upgrade your current Verizon plan to Verizon Wireless Unlimited, you can take advantage of this promotion. It’s also being offered to those who switch to Verizon Unlimited from a different carrier, and to new Verizon Fios home internet customers.
We’re not in this to be small. We’re in this to be very big.
— David Zaslav, Discovery CEO
The two shows described above are probably worth $5 a month to me, but the Discovery+ library contains a frankly baffling amount of content from several categories, coming from a long list of popular cable networks. These include Food Network, Cooking Channel, HGTV, DIY Network, TLC, Animal Planet, OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), A&E, Lifetime, History Channel, Magnolia Network, Travel Channel, and of course, Discovery. In addition to watching new programming from these networks, Discovery+ subscribers can binge past seasons of fan-favorite TV shows, such as House Hunters, Iron Chef, Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, Worst Cooks In America, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Love It Or List It, Chopped, Salvage Dawgs, Deadliest Catch, Beat Bobby Flay, Dirty Jobs, Restaurant: Impossible, Supermarket Stakeout, and Say Yes To The Dress. Some headlining shows, including Property Brothers and House Hunters International will have dedicated, continuous channel streams. So if you want to watch nothing but Property Brothers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you can. (You should also seek professional help.) If you’re more of an animal lover, you might gravitate toward Animal Planet shows like Crikey! It’s the Irwins, My Cat From Hell, Pit Bulls and Parolees, Dr. Jeff: Rocky Mountain Vet, and Shark Week. Discovery+ has also nabbed exclusive streaming rights to many award-winning BBC Nature documentary series, including Planet Earth I & II, Blue Planet I & II, Dynasties, Frozen Planet, and more. (If David Attenborough is narrating it, you know it’s going to be good.) New to American audiences is Judi Dench’s Wild Borneo Adventure, which follows the esteemed actress as she uncovers the “lush rain-forests, magical wildlife, and spectacular coastlines of Malaysian Borneo.”
As we have come to expect from any new streaming service, Discovery+ will supplement its immense collection of existing content with a catalog of original content, covering the lifestyle, reality TV, and documentary categories. Here are just some of the original shows coming to Discovery+ this year:
The popular TLC reality show 90 Day Fiancé has 3 spinoffs on Discovery+. In 90 Day Bares All, couples from the original 90 Day Fiancé show give candid interviews in which they reveal uncensored, behind-the-scenes stories that were too racy or scandalous for daytime cable TV. In 90 Day Diaries, couples from the show film themselves, without a crew, and without producers pulling any strings. The show is intended to offer a more intimate, less dramatized look at the the couples' lives. 90 Day Journey is a collection of limited series, each of which is a pared-down version of the original show, following one couple from start to finish.
Sir David Attenborough narrates a gorgeous new five-part documentary series called A Perfect Planet. Pieced together from over 3,000 hours of newly-shot footage, the series tells “the story of Earth’s power and fragility” by examining the delicate balance of natural forces that shape our environment and the living things that call it home. Filming took place over four years, across 31 countries.
Mysterious Planet is another five-part documentary series, narrated by Friends alumnus David Schwimmer. The series examines some of the greatest mysteries in the natural world, and attempts to unlock the evolutionary secrets that helped create the world's most incredible species. In this “epic journey to the ends of the Earth,” Schwimmer combines humor with the awe and beauty of the natural world.
As its title suggests, Bobby and Giada in Italy follows celebrity chefs Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis on a culinary tour of Italy. Wanting to explore the lifestyle, the culture, and the best food that Italy has to offer, Flay calls on his friend Giada to be his personal guide. Having grown up in Italy, Giada is the perfect person for the job. Together the chefs spend over a month in Rome and Tuscany, engrossed in the history and traditions of Italian cooking.
Luda Can’t Cook is a one-hour program in which the hip-hop icon Ludacris learns how to cook. In addition to being a rapper and actor, Ludacris has owned more than one successful restaurant, but he doesn’t know how to cook. “I absolutely love food and have always appreciated the art of cooking, but I can’t lie — I have no idea what I’m doing in the kitchen,” Ludacris said. “I’m on a mission to change that and master one cuisine at a time.” In the first one-hour special, Ludacris learns how to make Indian food from the celebrated chef Meherwan Irani.
Duff's Happy Fun Bake Time is a new show starring celebrity cake-maker Duff Goldman, along with a cast of colorful puppets created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. The six-episode series “goes beyond food rules and recipes to discover how ingredients work together to create delicious dishes and desserts.” Goldman says that “cooking is absolutely fascinating and I wanted to make a show that explained why things happen the way they do in the kitchen. When I understand the science behind the food I make, I somehow feel more connected to it, and I wanted to share that with everyone.”
In Six Degrees with Mike Rowe, the host of Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs goes back in time to examine the ways in which the most significant moments in history are interconnected. The show reveals how some of society's “most taken-for-granted” events changed history. “I’m super excited to have a new show on Discovery+, and delighted to announce that it doesn’t take place in a sewer,” Rowe said. “If I can remember half of what I learned while filming this remarkable series, I’ll be twice as smart as I ever was. And if viewers have as much fun watching it, as I did making it, we'll be announcing Season 2 in no time!”
House Hunters: Comedians on Couches Unfiltered is a mouthful of a title, but the concept is simple enough. Celebrity comedians watch classic episodes of House Hunters and give unfiltered color commentary. Led by Dan Levy and Natasha Leggero, the series features humorous observations and teasing ridicule from a rotating cast of characters, including Seth Rogen, John Mulaney, Ali Wong, JB Smoove, Chelsea Peretti, Witney Cummings, and Margaret Cho.
In addition to new shows, Discovery+ will be home to several new documentary films, including the following:
The Parachute Murder Plot tells the incredible story of Victoria Cillier. Though her parachute failed to open, she miraculously survived. As she tries to understand what has happened, Cillier discovers that her parachute fiasco was an attempt by her husband to murder her. And it wasn’t the first time he tried.
In The Impossible Row, professional endurance athlete Colin O’Brady and his crew of adventurers attempt to complete “the world's first completely human-powered ocean row across The Drake Passage, the most dangerous 600 miles of open ocean on Earth.” The 6-man crew faces the iciest waters in the world, where the Atlantic, Pacific, and Southern seas meet. High winds, freezing temperatures, and 50-foot-high ocean swells stand between the crew and the seven world records they hope to smash. Most consider it an impossible mission. Can it be done?
P.S. Burn This Later Please has its origins in a 60-year-old, secret box of letters discovered in a Los Angeles storage unit in 2014. This collection of letters led directors Michael Seligman and Jennifer Tiexiera on a journey of discovery as they tracked down the men who wrote the letters in the late 1950s and early ‘60s — and the men they were written about — all of whom were key figures in New York’s drag scene. According to the filmmakers, the documentary chronicles a unique perspective of gay life in midcentury NYC, and opens “a window into a forgotten world where being yourself meant breaking the law, and where the penalties for ‘masquerading’ as a woman were swift and severe.”
Discovery+ will also feature new paranormal content that is currently in development in conjunction with some yet-to-be-revealed “big names” in the world of Horror film. Travel Channel has increasingly embraced the paranormal in recent years, exploring so-called haunted locations in long-running shows like Ghost Adventures and The Dead Files. At launch, Discovery+ featured a two-hour Ghost Adventures spin-off special called Ghost Adventures: Cecil Hotel, featuring the Los Angeles hotel where Night Stalker Richard Ramirez was thought to have carried out some of his grisly murders.
More Original Content and 55,000 TV Episodes!
More original content will come from Group Nine Media digital providers like The Dodo, NowThis, and Thrillist. This overview has only scratched the surface of the Discovery+ library. I don’t think any other TV-centric streaming service that I have used has this much content on offer (though to be fair, I haven’t had a chance to check out Paramount+). There are reportedly more than 55,000 TV episodes available. Even if the vast majority of the Discovery+ catalog doesn’t interest you, there is probably a significant amount of content that you’d be into. That said, there are a few areas where Discovery+ falls a bit short. For example, although Discovery+ can be streamed on a wide variety of devices (including computers, Android or iOS mobile devices, and media streamers from Roku, Apple, Google, and Amazon), only certain Fire TV and Apple TV devices support UHD (4K) resolution. If, like me, you’re a Roku user who loves watching nature documentaries in pristine UHD, you’re out of luck. For now, at least, 1080p is as good as it gets on Roku’s Discovery+ channel. The same goes for users of Google-branded streamers, Samsung smart TVs, and Xbox consoles. Sony PlayStation users have it even worse — there’s no Discovery+ app on the Playstation at all. Discovery+ does not list any specifications for its audio quality, and it’s safe to assume that Dolby Atmos is NOT supported at this time. Average video and audio quality may be sufficient for watching Fixer Upper, but something like BBC’s Planet Earth series really deserves to be experienced in the best possible quality. Of course, the average consumer might not care about the last ounce of AV quality, but I know plenty of regular folks who would be quite disappointed to discover that Discovery+ has no parental controls. For all the great educational programming on the service, there’s plenty of more grown-up (i.e., trashy) reality TV content that many parents would rather keep away from their young kids. Lastly, you can’t download episodes for offline viewing on mobile devices, as you can on many other streaming services. That might be a major disappointment for someone who wanted to zone out during a long flight while watching a House Hunters marathon, or for someone who hoped to occupy a kid on a road trip by loading up the iPad with episodes of Duff's Happy Fun Bake Time.
Complaints aside, Discovery+ clearly offers a tremendous library of content for a reasonable price, and the service allows each subscriber to create up to 5 separate profiles, with four simultaneous streams. I hope that UHD support will eventually come to more devices, but it’s hard to argue with the $4.99 price ($6.99 ad-free), when you consider the sheer number of cooking shows, home-improvement shows, history documentaries, travel features, true-crime reports, nature documentaries, and romance reality TV shows available, not to mention the growing list of original content. It certainly beats paying $15 per month just to watch Game of Thrones.
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