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

Discovery Plus Review titles

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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