Please wait...
Please wait...

Discovery+ overcomes licensing deal issues to enter Canadian streaming market

Discovery+, the streaming service from US media giant Discovery, is officially launching in Canada next week.

JB Perrette

Discovery said the service, set to go live on October 19, will feature 60,000 episodes from its library of brands, including more than 200 new and exclusive series.

The ad-free version will cost C$6.99 (US$5.61) a month, while the ad-supported tier costs C$4.99. It will include originals such as Fixer Upper: Welcome Home, 90 Day: The Single Life, Naked & Afraid of Love, Unseamly: The Investigation of Peter Nygard, No Responders Left Behind, Bobby & Giada in Italy, Queen of Meth and Love in Paradise. More than 1,000 episodes will also be subtitled in French.

“We are thrilled to launch Discovery+ in Canada, a country of devoted Discovery fans and home to many of the most beloved stars in our family,” said JB Perrette, president and CEO of Discovery streaming and international.

“We know it will resonate with our loyal audience in Canada, as we continue to roll the service out to a number of key markets around the world throughout the rest of 2021.”

It has long been expected that Discovery+ would debut in Canada, but Discovery’s long-standing licensing deals with Canada’s two largest private broadcasters, Bell Media and Corus Entertainment, have complicated the launch.

Due to the way the Canadian regulatory system was established in the 1980s and 90s, foreign companies and brands were not permitted to launch directly within Canada without partnering with a local company.

That led to the creation of Canadian versions of well-known Discovery brands, including the flagship Discovery network as well as Food Network Canada and HGTV Canada.

In the case of Food Network Canada and HGTV Canada, those are majority owned by Corus Entertainment (80%) and minority owned by Discovery in the US (20%). A similar ownership structure is in place for the Canadian version of the Discovery network, which is majority owned by Bell Media (80%), with Discovery owning the remaining 20% through a long-standing joint venture.

These networks have garnered distinct identities and become staples of the pay TV landscape in Canada over the past two decades, through a combination of licensed content and Canadian originals produced under the respective pay TV brands.

While these relationships will remain in place, the launch of Discovery+ as a direct-to-consumer product represents a significant shake-up in Canada. Whereas in the past, Bell Media and Corus have licensed Discovery shows on a nearly exclusive basis, much of that content will now also be available on Discovery+ in Canada.

Discovery also said it has lined up an “integrated marketing partnership” with Corus Entertainment, with the Canadian broadcaster set to promote the launch of Discovery+ via its linear networks, radio, digital and social platforms.

Bell Media was not named in the press release announcing Discovery+’s Canadian launch, but a representative for Bell Media said the Canadian version of the Discovery brand would be unaltered.

“There are no changes to Discovery’s offering, which currently also includes the following brands: Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, Discovery Velocity, and Discovery Science,” said the representative, noting that programming such as Deadliest Catch, Gold Rush and the annual Shark Week event will continue to air and stream on Bell Media platforms, although the roll-out will vary for each programme.

In addition, Bell Media’s Discovery remains the exclusive home to Canadian original series such as Highway Thru Hell, Heavy Rescue: 401, Mighty Trains and Mud Mountain Haulers.

In August, Discovery CEO David Zaslav said the company had reached 18 million paying subscribers to its streaming services, including Discovery+.

Please wait...