Discovery Streaming Subs Hit 22M in Q4 2021

(Image credit: Discovery)

NEW YORK—In the Q4 earnings results, Discovery reported notable progress in its streaming efforts, with direct-to-consumer subs hitting 22 million, and outlined some streaming strategies for the combined WarnerMedia, Discovery assets when the merger is completed. 

Overall, Discovery added about 2 million direct-to-consumer subs in Q4, 2021, mostly for its Discovery+ service. 

During the Q4 earnings call David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery noted that for Discovery+, “we expect to launch the U.K. in March with additional countries in Europe having been identified to follow thereafter.” 

Zaslav also stressed that they had revamped their tech stack in Europe so it is on the same platform as the U.S., which will help speed up future growth and international rollouts for Discovery's direct-to-consumer products. 

“Within direct-to-consumer, discovery+ plus continues to perform very well,” Zaslav said. “We end the year with 22 million total subscribers passing peak investment loss levels supported by consistent and continued strong KPIs, advertiser interest, and overall monetization efforts. As previously discussed, we've thoughtfully and tactically managed our rollout and will continue to do so while sharpening our focus and gaining perspective for the next leg of our direct-to-consumer journey with WarnerMedia and HBO.”

“[W]e achieved a significant milestone this past quarter, having replatformed our discovery+ tech stack across Europe, bringing it onto a single platform consistent with the U.S.,” Zaslav said. “We achieved this important migration quite seamlessly, enabling a more feature rich and personalized consumer experience. These efforts should ultimately drive better consumer engagement, higher retention, and ultimately lower churn, further supporting the trend we've enjoyed over the last few quarters.”

“This replatforming also enables the rolling out of an add light tier to discovery + and select international regions,” he continued. “Something as you know, that was not contemplated when we launched at the end of 2020, in which we expect will figure meaningfully in our eventual merged offering.”

During the call Zaslav also explained how the large libraries and production capabilities of the combined WarnerMedia, Discovery assets would position them for faster growth on multiple platforms. 

But he also stressed that they planned to be "careful and judicious" in their spending. 

“We have the resources,” he said, adding that “we plan on being careful and judicious. Our goal is to compete with the leading streaming services, not to win the spending war.”

“We're going to spend more on content, but you're not going to see us come in and go, all right, we're spending $5 billion more" he said. 

“We're going to continue to spend, but don't expect us to come out and go a couple of billion dollars more and off we go,” he continued. “No, we're going to be measured. We're going to be smart and we're going to be careful, but we're going to invest in the streaming platform. But that's not our only game. Our game is to create a business that generates sustainable growth, that's global in nature, that generates a lot of free cash flow."

The remarks come at a time when Wall Street has become increasingly concerned about spending on content for streaming services at companies like Netflix and Disney. 

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.