Discovery Communications will be entering the TV Everywhere space in the near future, nearly a year after it announced its intention to do so. While NBCU, Time Warner and Fox have all expanded their TV Everywhere offerings across multiple devices and include live linear stream of some of their channels, Discovery Communications remained the lone major channel group on the sidelines without any TV Everywhere strategy. That could change, as Discovery Communications made its latest and loudest intention of providing authenticated access in its carriage renewal with Suddenlink Communications.
The multi-year renewal includes digital rights that will allow Suddenlink customers to have authenticated access to Discovery networks in and out of the home across a variety of devices. The networks that will have TV Everywhere access have not yet been announced.
As part of the renewal deal, Suddenlink will have continued linear and video-on-demand (VoD) programming to Discovery's 13 US networks. However, two networks will be going through a rebrand - The Hub Network will become Discovery Family Channel on 13 October, while Discovery Fit & Health is set to become Discovery Life channel on 15 January, 2015.
Discovery’s intention to dive into TV Everywhere was first made in its carriage renewal with Time Warner Cable in November 2013. Time Warner Cable customers were granted authenticated access to Discovery content that was to arrive at a later date, it has not yet come to fruition, but its looking like that time is near.
Looking at both sides of the coin, it wasn't surprising that Suddenlink and Discovery inked a new carriage deal, but the inclusion of TV Everywhere authenticated access is new. It seemed a given that as Suddenlink dropped Viacom it would continue to cement existing relationships with tent pole content producers, especially if viewing was consistent.
Though the terms of the renewed carriage deal were not disclosed, we can draw a few conclusions. First, Discovery networks are holding up better than did those of Viacom, or Discovery's rate increases were less than what Viacom was asking. The former supposition was certainly true during primetime, Discovery consistently made the top ten ratings list while none of Viacom's networks made the cut. It is likely that a combination of smaller carriage fee increases coupled with continued strength during prime time made the deal more palatable. At the same time, Suddenlink was likely looking to expand its TV Everywhere authenticated access portfolio.
The fact that Discovery and Suddenlink entered into a new long term non-contentious renewal makes sense. Suddenlink is still suffering some customer dissent after opting to drop Viacom's networks, replacing them with lesser-known services. It remains to be seen whether or not Discovery will indeed make good on its TV Everywhere intentions in a timely fashion, although it does seem more likely than when they were first announced during its TWC renewal.