Q. I hope Discovery Plus is the greatest failure of all time. They’ve decided to steal our shows from our channels on satellite and move them to Discovery Plus and we can’t watch them unless we pay up. I hope they fail! Don’t you think people won’t fall for this and not subscribe and they will have to bring our shows back? — Sherry, Dayton, Ohio. 

Sherry, as you note, Discovery has decided to offer new episodes of several popular Discovery-branded shows as Discovery+ exclusives such as Property Brothers: Forever Home, Ghost Adventures, and Paranormal: Caught On Camera, among others. This means that longtime cable and satellite viewers of those shows either have to subscribe to Discovery+ or go without their favorites.

For many subscribers already paying $100 a month for a cable or satellite package, that’s a bridge too far, although Discovery+ plans start at a reasonable $4.99 a month. In e-mails to yours truly, and comments on social media sites, the loyal Discovery viewers say it’s the principle; they shouldn’t be asked to pay more when they have supported the channels over several years. Without their support, Discovery’s brand wouldn’t be powerful enough for the company to even start a streaming service.

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Discovery officials won’t say if the new episodes will ever be available on the Discovery-owned channels found on cable and satellite, prompting many viewers to express hope that the streaming service will fail. If it did, Discovery obviously would move the new episodes to the pay TV Discovery channels, such as HGTV, the Food Network, TLC, The Travel Channel, and Discovery.

But Sherry, I have bad news for you. Discovery’s strategy seems to be working. The company announced today that Discovery+ (and the company’s international streaming services) have 11 million subscribers and will likely hit 12 million by month’s end. While that includes some non-Discovery+ numbers, Discovery CEO David Zaslav said the “vast” majority represent paying Discovery+ customers. That’s an impressive count considering Discovery+ launched just seven weeks ago.

“We are off to a promising start in 2021 with the successful launch of Discovery+,” Discovery CEO David Zaslav said in a statement following release of the company’s fourth quarter report. “We have now surpassed 11 million total paying direct-to-consumer subscribers globally and are on pace to be at 12 million by the end of the month, underscoring the value of the investments we’ve made in content, beloved personalities and brands with huge consumer appeal, supported by industry-leading DTC capabilities.”

So, Sherry, I don’t suspect that Discovery+ plans to change its strategy anytime soon. It’s working.

Now if the ratings for the pay TV Discovery channels start to falter, that’s another matter. Then company executives would have to reevaluate. But there’s no indication that is likely to happen. So for now, I’m afraid you’re going to have to subscribe to Discovery+ or do without.

Update: Zaslav said today that the moving of shows from pay TV to Discovery+ does not mean they will be gone forever.

“In terms of the content that we’re moving around, we’re really experimenting,” Zaslav told financial analysts in a conference call following the fourth quarter report release.

However, Zaslav did not commit to a time when the shows would be returned to the pay TV channels, if, that is, they are returned. For more on when they could return, read this. 

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Sherry, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing, and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann