Discovery+ US vs UK – What’s the difference?

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What is Discovery+?

Discovery+ (or Discovery Plus) is the brand of the streaming service operated by Discovery, Inc, a multinational mass media factual and lifestyle TV provider. With a host of channels under its belt and broadcasting worldwide, this giant in reality TV has finally caught up with its competition to offer its own subscription streaming service while continuing its content delivery to many major broadcasters.

Despite its latest widespread launch announcement for 2021, it carried out more of a rebrand in the handful of countries the service already ran in under its previous guise of Dplay, and before that QuestOD.

Why are there different catalogues for the UK and US Discovery+ platforms?

Licensing laws, restrictions, and regulations dictate which channels and content providers are allowed to stream what shows and in which regions. It’s an on-going affair, with many providers (Netflix for one—and let’s face it, they’re about as big as a streaming service there is) stating that they’d love to be able to provide one all-inclusive global catalogue.

Until that day finally dawns, we’ll continue to debate and deliver our various who’s who and who owns what when it comes to the geographically restricted catalogues, as well as providing you with the means to get around their blocks.

Why is the Discovery+ programming line-up so unusual?

You won’t find any fictional dramas, movies, and series on Discovery+. The channels included in each country’s line-up are all factual or non-scripted reality TV shows. You won’t find Breaking Bad or the latest Marvel or DC movies here, but you will find thousands of episodes of TV covering agendas such as renovating your house, rebuilding your car, breath-taking nature documentaries, and all kinds of real-life relationship fly-on-the-wall programs.

If I can get their channels from my TV provider, why should I subscribe to Discovery+?

Discovery plans to release a selection of its original content purely on the Discovery+ platform. That might annoy a few existing cable and satellite subscribers, but it’s a risk that Discovery has to take to attract the cord-cutters. As we continuously shift in the ways we consume TV, it appears as though the traditional platforms are slowly losing ground to the mass of streaming services.

The super-fast rise of Netflix, Prime, Disney+, and a myriad more have shown the way to providers and distributors alike and where the future looks brightest. It was only a matter of time before Discovery had to follow the trend.

Discovery+ original content

Some of the original content Discovery creates has become truly cult viewing. You only have to consider the 90 Day brand as an example of what Discovery has to offer. 90 Day Fiancé, 90 Day Bares All90 Day Diaries, and 90 Day Journey are all massive with reality streaming fans. Bobby and Giada in Italy is another sensation, drawing masses of viewers on the launch of the US service and as staples on the UK platform.

There’s a potential list of upcoming originals on Wikipedia and what to expect through 2021. So far, it only seems to offer what came out with the launch of the US platform in January, but go check it out if you want to whet your appetite with their latest productions—and when it’s next updated, what’s on its way.

Discovery+ channels

To give you an idea of the types of shows you’ll find on Discovery+, the following list covers the current channels providing content to Discovery+ UK.

  • Discovery+ Originals
  • Discovery
  • TLC
  • Quest
  • Really
  • Animal Planet
  • ID
  • Quest Red
  • HGTV
  • Food Network
  • Discovery Science
  • Discovery Turbo
  • DMAX
  • Discovery History
  • Motor Trend

However, taking a quick glance over the channels up for grabs on the US platform, there are a couple of extras on the list.

  • OWN
  • A&E
  • DIY Network
  • Lifetime
  • Magnolia Network
  • Trvl Channel
  • The Dodo

Which one’s the best—Discovery+ UK or US?

It’s a tough call. Without a definitive list of which side of the globe has precisely which content, we wouldn’t like to guarantee one over the other.

That said, both UK and US catalogues claim a mammoth 55,000 episodes. If that isn’t enough to keep you busy when you’re sat in front of your TV, then perhaps you need to think about getting up off the sofa once in a while!

When it comes to choosing between platforms, at the moment, the most that viewers have to go on are the additional channels available in the US. Whether they provide more or higher-quality shows, it’s hard to say. Until someone creates an app, algorithm, or program that compares their content—much in the same way JustWatch does with masses of providers’ platforms—we’re probably going to be left hanging a little longer. Hopefully, JustWatch will add the UK platform to their system soon (they already have Discovery Plus US on their database), which will give us all a lot more to go on.

Pitching the Discovery+ UK and US platforms against each other

Taking a quick dig into the top 20 most popular shows on Discovery+ US (according to JustWatch), we found a good handful that didn’t appear in a standard search on the UK platform.

Exclusive Discovery+ US shows

  • Alone, Bloodlands
  • Mythbusters
  • Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
  • Hell’s Kitchen
  • Planet Earth II
  • Kitchen Nightmares
  • Battlebots
  • Blue Planet II

These were only the first of many on our Yes to the US but no to the UK list. Whether the same kind of results would be noted by checking the most popular UK titles against the US library, well, we’ll just have to wait and see.

It could well be that with many of these programs still licensed to providers of traditional broadcast channels, they’re not yet available on the UK service just yet, and may never be.

With that in mind, we’re going to plump for the US Discovery+ channel as our favourite for the time being.

Until we’ve got far better, deeper-diving data to dig into, it looks like the US platform has more of the shows we all want than the UK version.

For those of you reality TV hounds who know exactly what they want from Discovery+, head to JustWatch to see if your favourite Discovery show is available on Discovery+ in the States, and then drop it into the Discovery+ UK search to find out if you can watch it there.

You’ll soon pick up the trends of your viewing habits and which platform is going to be your new best friend during 2021.