Discovery made headlines yesterday with its launch plans for its global streaming service Discovery+.
Lisa Holme, Group SVP, and Commercial Strategy, who oversees the service, has now lifted the lid on this company’s launch slate, how its commissioning structure will work between the streamer and its cable networks and teased a few more details about one of the company’s biggest franchises – 90 Day Fiancé.
Holme told Deadline that its content strategy is essentially three-fold: serving Discovery “superfans” more of the shows they love such as spin-offs of Say Yes To The Dress, Gold Rush and Dr. Pimple Popper, pushing into more premium areas of content with docs such as P.S., Burn This Letter Please and younger skewing shows and “genre mash-ups” to appeal to cord cutters such as baking competition Cakealikes.
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90 Day Fiancé is going to be a big part of the service, which launches on January 4. At launch, it will have four spin-offs including 90 Day Journey, which Holme describes as a “choose-your-own-adventure” style series, companion series 90 Day Bares All, 90 Day Diaries and The Other Way Strikes Back!
But the franchise, produced by Sharp Entertainment, will also have a new “tentpole” series on the digital platform as well as a gameshow, reportedly with a working title of Tournament of Love, and talk-show style formats. Holme said some of these shows will have more DNA ties to the TLC original than others and is expecting to reveal more soon. “I will confess that we’ve had to make some color coded diagrams internally, the TLC team knows it inside and out but as we’ve expanded for the entire company to be familiar with it, we’ve had to do some diagrams so people can keep straight who the characters,” Holme admitted.
The launch of a number of shows from Chip and Joanna Gaines – a preview of their Magnolia Network – is a boon for Discovery+ given that Magnolia was set to launch earlier this year before it was hit by the Covid-19 shutdown. Shows at launch include Magnolia Table with Joanna Gaines and The Courage to Run with Chip Gaines and Gabe Grunewald as well as preview episodes of the likes of First Time Fixer, The Lost Kitchen and Family Dinner.
“There are so many stans of Chip and Jo who haven’t gotten satisfying new shows from them since Fixer Upper went off the air, they’ve had little tastes here and there, there’s so much pent up demand, and I’m happy to be a conduit for some of that,” said Holme.
Discovery+ will not have its own original commissioning team but Holme and her group will work closely with the existing programmers at Discovery’s networks including the Discovery Channel, TLC and Food Network. “The first filter is more of a genre based filter so if a show is mostly a food show or mostly a true crime show, then the producers call the people they work with day-in at ID or Food Network. Then we have the conversation ‘Is the right home for this show Discovery+ or the network’,” she said. “Sometimes we’ll know that from the beginning and sometimes it will find its way in execution, where there are different choices that we make along the way that really steer it, casting is a big one, towards streaming or the network.”
The former Hulu exec added that some Discovery+ shows will essentially be reversioned “director’s cuts” of shows that have aired on other channels such as Amy Schumer Learns to Cook: Uncensored. “Two seasons aired on Food Network with a lot of Amy Schumer’s trademark comedy cut out because it doesn’t make sense for Food Network but we’ll put that back in,” she said.
The streamer has also picked up the UK version of BBC series Race Across The World, produced by Undercover Boss producer Studio Lambert. That show will also be available at launch. “That’s one of a few international acquisitions, we have a couple of co-productions in the works as well. One of the fantastic opportunities in streaming that people have got habituated to is a more global content palette than people were used to decades ago,” she said.
Holme added that more of its own, more expansive series will come a little down the line. Some of the bigger, more ambitious shows that require a year’s worth of filming or international travel, they’ve got a slightly longer lead.
The service will launch with 50 original titles and over 150 hours of exclusive content in January. Other titles include Bobby and Giada in Italy, Chopped Challenge, Lovely Bites with Chef Lovely, Tregaye’s Way in the Kitchen, American Detective with Lt. Joe Kenda, Onision: In Real Life, Frozen in Time, House Hunters: Comedians on Couches Unfiltered, Home Town: Ben’s Workshop, HGTV’s House Party, Tarek’s Flip Side, Christina: Stronger By Design, Say Yes to the Dress: In Sickness and In Health, Dr. Pimple Popper: This is Zit, Gold Rush: Freddy Dodge’s Mine Rescue, Mysterious Planet, Six Degrees with Mike Rowe, BattleBots: The Bounty Hunters, Elephant Hospital, Restaurant Hustle 2020: All on the Line – Director’s Cut, The Impossible Row, Beyond Borders, Judi Dench’s Wild Borneo Adventure, JonBenet Ramsey: What Really Happened?, Extreme Everest, Monster Garage, Auto Biography, Amityville Horror House, Ghost Adventures: Cecil Hotel and Ghost Adventures: Top 10.