The minute Discovery+ launches, two problems will immediately surface:

  1. What territory can Discovery defend in streaming once it repurposes TV content for a digital medium?
  2. As I asked on Twitter, is Discovery talent better off monetizing their talent on a Discovery SVOD? Or monetizing their own audiences via Patreon or “on Instagram, YouTube and maybe even TikTok”?

The first question is about whether audiences will consume Discovery content in OTT the same way they consume it on linear TV. The second is a more complicated one: can keep its talent happy with its business model for Discovery+; or, in other words, will talent still want to work with Discovery if it cannot scale?

These are obviously related questions.

Rather than investing on a certain loss because its advertisers and investors demand that outcome, Discovery is better off investing in new models that are “orthogonal” to the legacy media business.

What do those businesses look like? In some ways we know: low cost content that can scale easily across content verticals, and sponsorship models. But the rest is still being figured out, and to survive, Discovery needs to invest in and learn more about those models than it does an “SUV” streaming service. Its competition is not just Disney and Netflix in the content verticals it thrives in – its competition is also free.

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