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Discovery eyes D2C Velocity, Science apps

David ZaslavDiscovery Communications could soon launch direct-to-consumer apps for its Velocity and Discover Science channels as it seeks to super-serve what president and CEO David Zaslav calls “passionate tribes”.

Discovery has already launched over-the-top, on-demand players Dplay and Eurosport, and may now move on to similar launches for its American channel brands.

Zaslav said networks that attracted superfan-type audiences and were not necessarily best distributed as part of ‘skinny’ cable bundles were candidates for OTT services.

“We have a passionate tribe for Velocity and [sister channel] Discovery Turbo around the world,” Zaslav told journalists at a press conference at the French Open tennis tournament in Paris. “It’s a product that has so much energy behind it that we’re looking very hard at whether we should create a direct-to-consumer product.”

This would comprise video from the Velocity library, streamed live auto auctions and other content, he added.

Discovery Science is also being considered as a OTT product. “We’re a leader in science in almost every territory around the world and have content translated into 56 languages,” said Zaslav.

“Could we create a direct-to-consumer app that could drive science entertainment and understanding of STEM [science, mathematics, engineering and technology]? I think we could do that without diminishing the Science channel itself.”

“In the end you have to work out what people are willing to pay for and what gives them the best offering,” he added.

Zaslav unveiled the plans as part of a host of announcements, including that Discovery has bought a 27.5% stake in Bethia Communications, the Chilean company behind leading local broadcast channel Mega. Again, this would attract ‘superfans’ to Discovery brands, Zaslav said.

Meanwhile, Discovery has signed a deal to put seven of its Italian channels – Nove, Real Time, DMax, Giallo, Focus, K2 and Frisbee on Vodafone TV. Discovery content is already available to Vodafone pay TV subscribers via its authenticated TV Everywhere service.

On the programming front, Discovery plans to take its Shark Week international this year in more than 220 territories, with Zaslav quipping his company was taking a ‘shark and awe’ approach.

Shark Week will launch in territories such as the UK, Canada and Argentina on the US launch date, June 26, with a July roll-out for other such as Norway, Mexico and Australia and New Zealand.