Discovery Downsizes Cosmeo Staff

Discovery Communications has quietly downsized its Cosmeo online homework help tool, shifting more of its resources to its direct-to-school Discovery Education streaming service.

The premium-based Cosmeo, which launched in March 2006 and offers more than 50,000 educational video and photo segments, has shrunk its employee base from 100 at launch to merely three today, according to Discovery officials.

The company would not reveal subscriber numbers for the service, which charges $9.95 per month or $99 a year.

While the service will remain operational online, Discovery CEO David Zaslav said the company was a profit drain although he would not reveal specific losses. He said the company has refocused most of its education resources to the company’s direct-to-school Discovery Education streaming service, which features 4,000 full-length video segmented into 40,000 content-specific clips and is used by more than one million teachers and 30 million students in more than half of all U.S. schools.

“With Cosmeo, we were in the direct-to-consumer homework helper business, where we lost a ton of money,” said Zaslav, but would not provide specific revenue figures. “There are some people that like it so we're not going to pull it from them. But we’ve pushed more aggressively in our school business, and by doing that we took something where we we’re losing a lot of money to where we're now break-even and we hope that we'll be able to make some meaningful dollars on education.” 

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.