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Discovery Plus streaming service to launch Jan. 4, with free year for Verizon customers

Discovery Plus' monthly subscription will be $5 with commercials or $7 without ads -- but some Verizon customers get up to a year free.

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Joan E. Solsman
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Discovery Plus will stream a ton of BBC Nature documentaries, including the US premiere of A Perfect Planet, the latest David Attenborough-narrated nature docuseries. 

BBC One/Discovery

Discovery, the cable programmer behind networks like Discovery Channel, Food Network, HGTV and TLC, will launch a reimagined streaming service called Discovery Plus in the US on Jan. 4 for $5 a month with commercials and $7 a month ad free, making it the latest traditional media company to rev up a rival to Netflix and Disney Plus. In addition, Verizon is offering Discovery Plus free to some customers for as long as a year. 

Discovery Plus adds another combatant in the so-called streaming wars, a period over the last year when media giants and tech titans have released a raft of new streaming services. These battles -- pitting rookies like Apple TV PlusHBO MaxDisney Plus and NBCUniversal's Peacock against heavyweights like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video -- have spurred huge corporations to pour billions of dollars into their ambition to shape the future of television. 

But for you, this intensifying competition also affects how many services you must use -- and often pay for -- to watch your favorite shows and movies online. 

Discovery Plus already launched last month in the UK and Ireland. In addition to the US rollout on Jan. 4, the service plans to widen to more than 25 international markets next year. The company called out plans to launch the service in Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the Nordics (typically Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), Latin American countries including Brazil, and in parts of Asia.

Like many new streaming services, Discovery Plus will be a mix of library shows and movies and new, exclusive originals. In the US, Discovery Plus will have more than 55,000 episodes from Discovery's own channels, as well as from BBC's Natural History collection, A&E Networks, Group Nine and others. And the company said it plans a "robust slate" from people like former Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines, nature documentary host David Attenborough, comedian Kevin Hart and chefs Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis

As far as what devices will support Discovery Plus to stream, the company said the service will be "available across major platforms, including connected TVs, web, mobile and tablets," without specifying particular platforms. 

Verizon deal

The new service will launch with an extended free-trial partnership with Verizon, offering some of the telecom giant's customers as many as 12 months of Discovery Plus essentially free. Verizon has made a bit of a habit of offering these kinds of perks to customers: Verizon comped a year of Disney Plus for many customers when the Hollywood giant rolled out its own streaming service a year ago. 

New and current wireless customers with so-called Play More or Get More Unlimited mobile plans will get 12 months of Discovery Plus at no added cost. Also, new customers who sign up for Verizon 5G Home Internet or Fios Gigabit Connection internet service will get 12 months of Discovery Plus free.

Verizon customers with a Start or Do More Unlimited plan will receive six months of Discovery Plus at no added cost, and new Fios customers will be eligible for three to six months depending on their plan. 

More details of the deal are on a support page

Shows, movies and specials

In the US, Discovery Plus said it'll have tens of thousands of episodes, all leaning into the company's tradition of nonfiction and reality programming. The catalog will include 2,500 current and classic shows from Discovery's portfolio of networks, including HGTV, Food Network, TLC, ID, OWN, Travel Channel, Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. US subscribers will also be able to stream new series from talent like the Gaines' of Fixer Upper; comedian Hart working with blockbuster film producer Will Packer; the franchise 90 Day Fiancé; Food Network stars Flay and De Laurentiis; and comedian Amy Schumer, among others. 

Nature, science and environmental programming will be big on Discovery Plus. Topping this catalog in the US will be exclusive streaming rights for many major BBC nature docuseries, like Planet Earth, Blue Planet and Frozen Planet. And Discovery Plus will host the US debut of A Perfect Planet, a new five-part series narrated by Attenborough and created by the executive producer of Planet Earth and The Hunt. The service will also stream content from animal-focused digital programmer The Dodo, and it has content partnerships with large environmental organizations around the world, including The Explorers Club, Oceana and WWF.

In addition, Discovery Plus will supplement Discovery's own library of nonfiction programming by licensing content from A&E, The History Channel and Lifetime, adding more than 1,500 episodes from programs like The First 48, Bring It, Dance Moms, Ice Road Truckers, Pawn Stars, Ancient Aliens, Storage Wars, 60 Days In, Intervention and Ghost Hunters.

Read more: Peacock vs. HBO Max vs. Disney Plus vs. Apple TV Plus: How streaming stacks up

Watch this: What's new to stream for December 2020

Correction, Dec. 2: An earlier version of this article misstated the other streaming service Verizon offered customers in a free-year promotion. In addition to Discovery Plus, Verizon offers a similar extended free trial for Disney Plus.