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A new year, a new OTT streaming service.

Discovery has joined the video streaming platform with Discovery+, a new way to watch all of its content on demand. It includes content from all of the media properties under the Discovery umbrella, which include: HGTV, Food, TLC, Animal Planet, OWN, Discovery, Discovery+ Originals, Investigation Discovery, Magnolia Network, A&E, Lifetime, History, Travel, DIY, Science Channel and the Dodo. It also features prior seasons of popular shows, including Chopped, Beat Bobby Flay, Deadliest Catch, Say Yes to the Dress, Dirty Jobs, Dr. Pimple Popper and House Hunters -- 55,000 episodes in total available.

In addition, Discovery will begin streaming shows that are exclusive to Discovery+, including shows from the 90 Day Fiancée franchise, Amy Schumer Learns to Cook and Bobby and Giada in Italy. Discovery+ has been very heavily promoting itself on TV, as well as digital ads and even emails.

However, with 98% of Discovery+ content already airing on cable TV, it’s hard to tell how successful the newest streaming service will be.

From a consumer point of view, the over the top (OTT) streaming options are endless and that’s a relatively good thing. There’s paid streaming with no commercials (Netflix, Amazon Prime). There’s paid streaming with commercials (Hulu, Peacock, CBS All Access, Discovery+), and there’s an option to pay an additional fee to not see commercials on those same services. Then, there are completely free OTT services that have commercials, such as Pluto, Tubi and Crackle.

From an advertiser standpoint, things are not so good and easy. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is selling OTT. From TV stations, to cable companies, to radio groups, to newspaper organizations to third-party vendors. The list of OTT sellers goes on and on.

And the reason why? Because anyone can buy inventory through a demand side platform (DSP) and resell it to advertisers. I cannot tell you how many times we’ve heard from media vendors, “We have the best inventory, we have the best targeting, we have the best reporting, we have the best relationships.”

So, how are we, as an agency, supposed to sell it to our clients? There is no doubt OTT is growing and will continue to evolve. It’s big news in the industry and we know that advertisers are looking at ways to be a part of it. The problem is that at this point, almost none of the providers are prepared to sell to low- to mid-spend advertisers. Unless your brand has the benefit of an endless marketing budget, placement of spots are iffy, CPMs are high, and reporting is not completely transparent.

As a result, MGH typically recommends that we buy directly from providers who actually own the inventory (such as Comcast and some TV stations), so we can set our expectations from the onset of the planning process. They should be able to reach your goals, such as requested percent of those who have connected TVs (a TV that has access to internet connection and can stream), exclude certain services or networks, make sure that your spots are running in decent programming, and provide a comprehensive report.

One day, this will become much more streamlined and easier to place, but right now, “spend cautiously” is our recommendation.

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