'Course Correct' This: Discovery Plus Surrenders Its App Experience to Yet Another Wholesale Partner, Sling TV

Warner Bros. Discovery
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Discovery)

Sling TV users can now sign up, sign into and watch Discovery Plus via the Sling TV app, providing yet another wholesale partnership for the Warner Bros. Discovery SVOD service. 

Sling TV users, whether they subscribe to the virtual pay TV platform or use its free ad-supported iteration, can sign up and view both the $4.99 partially ad-supported Discovery Plus tier or the $6.99 no-ad version.

They'll watch Discovery's array of largely non-fiction shows, including 90 Day: The Single Life, with their required full concentration, secure in their knowledge that they have to distract themselves by remembering another user name and password beyond their Sling TV credentials. 

Also read: HBO Max Survives Un-Kneecapped ... for Now

Of course, Sling TV recoups a portion of the revenue and gets the data another accoutrements that come with controlling the coveted "customer relationship."

WBD has already established similar wholesale relationships for Discovery Plus within Amazon Prime Video Channels and Roku Channel. HBO Max, which launched in the Roku Channel in May, looks poised to return to Prime Video Channels, as well. 

“With Discovery Plus, we are committed to making our world-class content accessible to all of our fans across all platforms, and this partnership with Sling and Dish allows us to deliver on that commitment,” said Gabriel Sauerhoff, senior VP of digital distribution and commercial partnerships for Warner Bros. Discovery. “We always put our dedicated viewers at the forefront of our decision making, and we’ll continue to do so as we expand the reach of our beloved programming, talent and brands.”

Added Gary Schanman, group president for Sling TV: “The addition of discovery+ on our platforms offers iconic and acclaimed content for the a la carte experience our customers love. We offer more than 50 premium a la carte services to enable our users to customize their viewing experience, all with a single account login so they can easily manage their services in one place.”

It was only a year ago that Andy Forssell, then in charge of HBO and HBO Max, told investors that HBO could lose as many as 5 million customers as it extracted itself from its Amazon Prime Video Channels ties. 

The decision had already delayed the launch of HBO Max onto Amazon's popular device ecosystem, Amazon Fire TV, for the first six months of Max's life in the streaming marketplace back in 2020. 

It was all worth it, Forssell, reasoned, to keep the erstwhile WarnerMedia in control of its data and user experience by interfacing directly with consumers via the company's own app. 

A year later, the erstwhile Time Warner Inc./WarnerMedia has been spun off from AT&T and merged yet again, with Discovery management, led by CEO David Zaslav, taking over and reversing course on pretty much everything Kilar did. 

Last week, during WBD's Q2 earnings report, CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels described the pullout from wholesale distribution as yet one more element of Kilar's strategy that WBD management was "course correcting."

"Certain actions taken to limit HBO Max B2B distribution provided a headwind to performance," Wiedenfels said. 

Look for the combined HBO Max/Discovery Plus app to take Discovery Plus' place within the Sling TV subscriptions menu when it launches next year. 

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!