Here comes a chasing-the-trend twofer! Discovery Channel chief David Zaslav has announced that the documentary programing network will be launching its own streaming service (of course) and that they’ve teamed with the BBC to bring its Natural History Unit content to this as of yet unnamed service. This means that BBC’s Planet Earth and Blue Planet will be leaving Netflix for its new exclusive home.
The way in which Zaslav explains the deal is the usual PR/business jargon mishmash. “The IP is a big piece of the core strategy; these landmarks and that library is our Marvel IP catalogue,” he said. “That’s the business we’re in. Those are the stories that are loved in every country in the world… Planet Earth, Life, Blue Planet, Frozen Planet… these are just the titles that exist that we will be doing spinoffs, sequels, characters, and stories from that IP catalogue.”
Does this mean that we can expect to see an extended universe within our natural universe? Like, the next time you see a squirrel run up a tree you’ll think, “Oh man, he’s off to help Alligator and Chimpanzee fight off Sky Prick the Bald Eagle” because you just finished watching Planets Collide: A Discovery Event? Probably not. It likely means that tacking the word Planet onto flashy clipshows of wildlife doing awesome shit is their bread and butter, and Discovery will keep churning these out in perpetuity. But everything sounds like a bigger deal if you say it’s like Marvel.
It does let the imagination run wild, though. You’re just sitting on the couch watching a whale jump out of the ocean in slow-motion just as a seagull is about to fly into its mouth, and then bam! a tiger from a documentary on jungle mating habits you watched last month leaps from the whale’s mouth and eats the seagull instead, landing on a small island. The whale and tiger share a look to let you know that shit will certainly be going down in the big crossover. A polar bear rears up on one of the last remaining icebergs in the Arctic, seeing a strange shape move in the distance. The blizzard drops for a moment, and you see Samuel L Jackson standing there in a fur getup. He tosses the bear a badge and says, “I’d like to talk to you about a team we’re starting–the Animalvengers.” Aww yeah! Sign me up for six subscriptions!
But honestly, I’ll probably subscribe. This sounds like a good idea, and Zaslav stated that he aims for the service to run under $5. When I had cable, Discovery was a staple of stuff to watch when I didn’t really want to watch anything but was sitting in front of the TV anyway, so if they can add the same quality and breadth of content, then this will for sure be worth the asking price. This is the first new streaming service that sounds cool to me since Shudder.