Amazon’s $8.5 billion bet on MGM is the latest sign that tech is transforming Hollywood. Here are the biggest deals that have altered the streaming world.

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  • The media business keeps consolidating, and Amazon’s purchase of MGM Holdings isn’t the first sign.
  • Disney bought 21st Century Fox in 2019, gaining control of Hulu, and AT&T is merging WarnerMedia with Discovery.
  • The deals signal a trend that many in the media world realize survival lies in the streaming market.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

It’s official – Amazon is acquiring MGM Studios’ parent company for $8.45 billion, it announced Wednesday.

That means that movies and shows owned by MGM could eventually appear on Amazon’s Prime video streaming platform for users to watch.

It’s yet another instance of a tech company partnering with a film industry power player to round out its streaming offerings and compete with deeply entrenched rivals like Disney and Netflix.

And as streaming services continue to gain favor over traditional TV, media firms are likely happy to oblige, helping further industry consolidation. Film studios without their own streaming service are especially keen on finding a way to get eyeballs on – and monetize – their libraries.

Here are some of the biggest mergers, acquisitions, and deals amongst tech platforms and traditional film companies that have set the stage for the streaming wars.

Disney and 21st Century Fox

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Drew Barrymore stars in 1999’s “Never Been Kissed.”

Disney bought the film company 21st Century Fox and its decades-old 20th Century Studios subsidiary, in a $71 billion sale that closed in 2019. Disney’s streaming platform, Disney+, launched in December of that year with films like “Never Been Kissed” and “Ever After” available to watch.

Those 21st Century Fox films will join Disney’s already attractive library it built with past acquisitions of LucasFilm -home to “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” – and Marvel.

The Fox deal also gave Disney control of Hulu

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Elisabeth Moss stars in “Handmaid’s Tale.”

Hulu has always had a complicated ownership setup, but Disney now owns a majority of the company and maintains full operations of the streaming platform.

Through its 21st Century Fox acquisition, Disney also absorbed the corporation’s 60% stake in Hulu, one of the original streaming services that launched in 2007. It later acquired AT&T’s 9.5% stake in Hulu, bringing its stake to about 70%.

Comcast is the only other shareholder, which is guaranteed to own a minimum of 21% thanks to a 2019 deal.

Disney even offers a $13.99 bundle that includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+.

Netflix announced a deal with Sony in April

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Tom Holland has played Spider-Man in five MCU movies.

The agreement will allow Netflix to offer Sony’s future 2022 films in the US, including installments of the “Spider-Man” franchise with Tom Holland. Other potential future Sony releases could include “Jumanji” and “Ghostbusters.”

After Sony’s movies are released in theatres in 2022, they’ll first go to pay-per-view and then hit Netflix.

As Insider’s Travis Clark reported, the deal gives Sony – which doesn’t have its own streaming platform – an avenue to showcase its films. And it gives Netflix even more theatrical releases to entice paying customers.

Disney will also have Sony movies after Netflix has its turn

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Tom Holland as Spider-Man.

After a Sony film is released in theatres in 2022, has its pay-per-view television run, and spends an expected 18 months on Netflix, it’ll be offered on Disney+ and Hulu. Sony and Disney said the US licensing deal will be in effect from 2022 until 2026.

The agreement means that future “Spider-Man” movies could eventually call Disney+ home alongside Disney-owned Marvel’s film franchise, which Holland appears in as well.

Sony and Disney ran into a snag in the past over Sony’s movie rights to hundreds of Marvel characters and Disney’s Marvel productions. The solution was for Disney and Sony to agree on the Spider-Man character being allowed to appear in one more standalone film and another Marvel Cinematic Universe installment.

AT&T’s massive WarnerMedia-Discovery merger will create a new streaming giant

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“Wonder Woman 1984.”

The communications giant announced last week that it was spinning off its WarnerMedia content arm, which includes HBO and Warner Bros., both of which AT&T acquired when it bought then-Time Warner for $81 billion in 2018. AT&T plans to merge WarnerMedia with the media company Discovery.

That means content from the two companies’ 100-plus brands, including HGTV and Discovery, would all exist under one umbrella. Such a service could give Netflix, the reigning streaming champ, a run for its money. The deal is expected to close in mid-2022.

The Discovery Plus streaming platform had already launched in early January with subscriptions starting at $4.99 and showing programs from Food Network, HGTV, TLC, BBC, and Discovery Channel, home to Shark Week. It was the first new streaming service to launch in 2021.

MGM Studios is home to the oldest and most beloved film classics

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James Bonds over the years.

Amazon is shelling out $8.5 billion to acquire MGM Holdings, whose 97-year-old MGM Studios is behind some of the world’s most classic movies and TV shows. The company said that the “more than 4,000 films” and “17,000 TV shows” were big factors in making the purchase.

Movies include “Silence of the Lambs” starring Anthony Hopkins, “Rocky,” and the extensive James Bond film catalog. Although as Insider’s Travis Clark reported, MGM owns just half of the rights to Bond, with the rest belonging to producers that handle the creative direction of the franchise. That means that it could get tricky if Amazon ever wanted to, say, produce a TV series starring the famous character.

Viacom merged with CBS in 2019 with Paramount already under its belt

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Emily Blunt in “A Quiet Place 2.”

Viacom’s acquisition of Paramount may have closed in 1994, but the move set the company up well for what would become the 21st-century streaming wars. So did Viacom’s merger with CBS in 2019.

The streaming service CBS All Access launched in 2014 and was rebranded as Paramount Plus in 2020 as the pandemic drove a business boom in the streaming market.

Since “A Quiet Place 2” is distributed by Paramount Pictures, the movie starring Emily Blunt will be available on the streaming service on July 12.

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Discovery Plus is the perfect streaming service for fans of nonfiction shows, but its interface needs some work

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Discovery Plus Review wide
  • Discovery Plus offers all your favorite Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, Food Network, and HGTV shows.
  • The service costs $5 a month with ads, or $7 a month without commercials.
  • The interface has flaws, but the low price makes it a great option for fans of Discovery’s networks.

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Discovery Plus is one of the latest services to throw its hat into the streaming wars.

The platform launched in the US on January 4 and is the streaming home for programs from Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, HGTV, and Food Network. It also features dozens of new Discovery Plus Originals and handy 24/7 streaming channels for popular shows.

Discovery Plus plans are priced at $5 a month with ads or $7 a month for commercial-free streaming. Select Verizon customers can even get a full year for free.

I signed up for the ad-supported plan and tried the service for about a week to see how it performs. While browsing through the Discovery Plus library, it’s been exciting to circle back to classic shows and discover brand-new series, but the interface could still use some work.

Price, plans, and deals

Discovery Plus costs $5 a month for ad-supported viewing, or $7 a month for commercial-free streaming. Each plan comes with a free seven-day trial.

Verizon is also giving select customers up to 12 months of Discovery Plus for free. The promotion is for the ad-free plan and is available to new Fios customers, new 5G internet customers, and all unlimited phone plan customers.

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Unlike some other services, Discovery Plus only offers monthly plans, so there’s no discount if you pay for a full year up front. The service does offer gift cards, however, for 12 months ($83.75) or six months ($41.75) of its ad-free plan.

Content library

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Discovery Plus understands its lane, offering a big library of shows designed to cater to fans of reality TV, nature programs, cooking, true crime, and education. People who like scripted dramas and comedies, however, will have to look elsewhere. Discovery Plus is purely a service for fans of Discovery networks, and in that sense, its catalog offers a lot of value.

With classic titles pulled from all of Discovery’s brands and networks, the service is jam-packed with blasts from the past, including “Dirty Jobs,” “The Crocodile Hunter,” “Mythbusters,” and “Unwrapped.” There are also dozens of new Discovery Plus Originals, like “Cocktails and Tall Tales,” “Luda Can’t Cook,” and “Monster Garage.”

The original shows, in particular, have creative concepts – like rapper Ludacris learning how to cook different dishes. As a whole, the entire lineup features a solid selection of quality shows centered around the home, food, and history.

By our count, we found 91 programs listed as “Discovery Plus Originals” either with full episodes or trailers indicating they are coming soon. Not every original program was under the Discovery Plus Originals category, however, as we found at least 12 under the platform’s tab for the upcoming Magnolia Network (rebrand of DIY Network).

Interface

Discovery Plus Review show page

The Discovery Plus interface works well enough but it doesn’t have any standout characteristics and it can feel bulky and hard to navigate. It’s particularly confusing to find the platform’s 24/7 streaming channels, as they aren’t on the sidebar or top menu like you’d expect.

The platform’s sidebar contains the basics for exploring the catalog, including a tab for browsing shows, a tab for saved programs (“My List”), and a search bar. The “Browse” tab allows you to find content by its original channel and also by category such as “True Crime” and “Lifestyle.”

To get to the 24/7 channels, you need to scroll down a bit on the “For You” page. This is also where you’ll find rows for the platform’s themed collections. The 24/7 channels are a terrific inclusion for binge-watchers as they let you stream non-stop episodes of “House Hunters,” “Property Brothers,” and “90 Day FiancĂ©” – I just wish they were easier to find.

One of the redeeming features of the Discovery Plus interface is its helpful recommendation feature. When visiting a show’s main page there are up to 20 additional series recommendations to explore, making it easy to jump into similar programs you might like.

I was hopeful that the platform’s “My List” would easily compile all my favorite content in one place, but it turns out that this feature doesn’t let you save individual episodes. In addition to a limited “Recently Watched” section – which is only accessible on the “For You” page – there isn’t a place to queue up specific episodes I want to watch over the span of a few hours. This makes the experience difficult as I have to go back and sort through shows to find episodes.

Format support

Discovery Plus does include some 4K titles for subscribers who have the necessary gear, but it’s not easy to find these programs as there’s no specific 4K category in the main menu.

The platform requires you to search “Ultra HD” to find this content. After you do this, an “Ultra HD” tab will appear in the results. Once you click on a 4K title, a “UHD” icon will appear on its page to let you know that it plays in 4K. That said, the icon may not appear on certain devices.

While most of the UHD content is limited to a few nature programs – such as “Planet Earth II” and BBC’s “Dynasties” – I was surprised to find programs like “NASA Mars Landing,” “Misfit Garage” and “American Titans” in 4K quality. On the downside, unlike Netflix and other popular 4K services, Discovery Plus does not support HDR.

Devices and features

Discovery Plus is compatible with most media players and smart TV platforms, with the exception of PlayStation devices.

While Discovery Plus is relatively new and will likely roll out new features throughout 2021, there are already obvious faults that I hope it fixes.

One of these is the lack of offline downloads, making Discovery Plus the only major streaming service that doesn’t provide this feature.

Aside from that drawback, Discovery Plus is mostly on par with other platforms thanks to its 4K content and support for up to four simultaneous streams (just like Disney Plus). Its starting plan is also one of the cheapest streaming options there is, at just $5 a month. That’s comparable to Apple TV Plus and Peacock Premium.

Should you subscribe to Discovery Plus?

Discovery Plus’ low price makes it a solid option for big fans of reality TV, cooking shows, nature docs, and other nonfiction programs. It’s also an affordable choice if you’re looking for a secondary service to supplement your primary streaming platform, whether that be Netflix, HBO Max, Prime Video, Disney Plus, or Hulu.

Personally, I’d tack an ad-supported Discovery Plus plan onto a Disney Plus bundle. With this combo, you’ll get scripted shows and movies from Hulu and Disney Plus, sports from ESPN+, and nonfiction programs from Discovery for a total of $19 a month.

Discovery Plus, even with ads, is worth it for fans of its cable channels. The exclusive programs, in addition to its extensive on-demand library, can lead to hours of entertainment, even if there are hiccups with the interface.

The bottom line

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Discovery Plus is still new, which gives it time to sort out its flaws, especially its limited “My List” feature and lack of downloads. These flaws make the catalog of shows and documentaries difficult to explore to the fullest extent.

But beyond these faults, Discovery Plus knows what its networks do best: offer entertaining and informative content about our homes, lives, history, and natural world.

Fans of scripted TV dramas and comedies will have to look elsewhere, but shows like “Guy’s Grocery Games,” “Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations,” and “Ghost Adventures: Cecil Hotel” are binge-worthy adventures for anyone bored with fictional dramas.

For full details on how we evaluate streaming services, check out our review methodology here.

Pros: Diverse content for fans of nonfiction TV, great for binge-watching, very affordable, tons of original programs

Cons: User interface is bulky, no ability to queue and save specific episodes, no offline watching, no HDR support

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Discovery Plus streams shows from Discovery, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Animal Planet, and more for $5 a month – here’s how it works

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If you’re a fan of reality TV, nature programs, cooking shows, true crime series, and educational titles, then you might be interested in Discovery’s new on-demand streaming service. Dubbed Discovery Plus, the digital platform features a massive library of shows from all of the major Discovery networks. You can sign up now for $5 a month with commercials or $7 a month for ad-free streaming.

Discovery Plus is designed to provide easy access to all your favorite Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, Food Network, and HGTV series in one streaming app. The service also features a selection of brand-new exclusive programs you won’t find anywhere else. And, since it’s a standalone subscription platform, you don’t need a cable or satellite plan to tune in.

Below, we’ve broken down some of the basic details on Discovery Plus, including pricing, device support, and content selection.

What is the Discovery Plus price?

Discovery Plus is available in two plans: an ad-supported option and an ad-free option. The ad-supported plan costs $5 a month. Meanwhile, the ad-free plan costs $7 a month. Both plans come with a free seven-day trial for new subscribers.

For a limited time, select Verizon customers can receive 12 months of ad-free access to Discovery Plus for free. The offer is available with select Verizon Unlimited plans, Fios Home Internet, or 5G Home service. You can find full details on the Verizon deal here.

If you’d like to try the service for yourself, you can sign up for Discovery Plus now through the Discovery Plus website.

Which devices support Discovery Plus?

Discovery Plus is available on iOS and Android mobile devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung smart TVs, Xbox consoles, Chromecast, and web browsers.

For more streaming player recommendations, check out our guide to the best streaming sticks and devices.

What can I watch on Discovery Plus?

Discovery Plus is home to an extensive library of content from 14 networks, including Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, Food Network, HGTV, ID, A&E, History, Lifetime, OWN, Travel, Science Network, The Dodo, and more. In total, Discovery says that the streaming service offers over 55,000 episodes of content.

The lineup features popular programs like “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives,” “Chopped,” “Property Brothers,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Deadliest Catch,” “Worst Cooks in America,” “Planet Earth II,” “Dirty Jobs,” and many more.

New original shows developed exclusively for Discovery Plus are also available to stream. Discovery Plus Originals include “Bobby and Giada in India,” “American Detective with Lt. Joe Kenda,” “90 Day FiancĂ© Universe,” “Home Town: Ben’s Workshop,” “Home Town: Six Degrees with Mike Rowe,” and more. You can find a full list of Discovery Plus original shows here.

A new feature, called “Discovery Plus Channels,” is also available. This option allows members to stream continuous 24/7 feeds of select shows, like “House Hunters” and “Chopped.”

Is Discovery Plus worth it?

We’re currently in the process of testing Discovery Plus for a full review and, based on our initial impressions, its value will largely depend on your tastes as a viewer. If you’re a big fan of the Discovery family of networks, then having easy access to so many of the brand’s programs in one app could be worth the price of admission alone. Especially if you opt for the commercial-free plan.

With that said, if you already subscribe to a pay-TV service with access to channels like Discovery, Food Network, and TLC, then you likely already get on-demand access to many of these shows via your cable box or each channel’s dedicated app.

It remains to be seen how much of a draw the new Discovery Plus original programs will be, but if the lineup looks interesting to you, then you should test out the service with its free seven-day trial to see if it’s really worth paying $5 or $7 a month for yet another streaming service.

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