Thursday, December 14, 2017

BREAKING. Discovery's Animal Planet axed from DStv after 14 years at the end of December; MultiChoice says other 4 Discovery channels will remain in new carriage deal.

Animal Planet (DStv 183) is the next channel getting culled from MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service, with the channel from Discovery Networks International that will go dark in two weeks' time at the end of December after 14 years.

TLC Entertainment on DStv is also dropping the "Entertainment" and reverting back to just being known as TLC from January 2018.

These changes are very likely big parts of the reason why Discovery Networks didn't hold any year-end upfront presentation for South African advertisers and media this year, marking the first time in at least 7 years that Discovery in South Africa broke with its own annual upfront modus operandi.

Discovery Networks International for the Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEEMEA) region didn't respond when asked on Monday through its FleishmanHillard SA PR agency if Animal Planet is being removed off DStv, but on Thursday morning MultiChoice confirmed that Animal Planet is getting axed.

DStv added Animal Planet in 2003 but started cutting it back two years ago when the channel from Discovery was scaled back in December 2015 and removed from DStv Compact, making it only available to DStv Premium and DStv  Compact Plus subscribers only.

Recently DStv subscribers watching Animal Planet noticed a warning advisory on the Animal Planet DStv electronic episode guide (EPG) saying the channel will be discontinued on 30 December.

Interestingly, Discovery Networks CEEMEA didn't have any end-of-year upfront for advertisers and the press in South Africa for the first time in years.

Discovery's conspicuously absence at the annual upfront show-and-tell circuit was noticeable since Discovery in South Africa's upfront is widely regarded by the TV, advertising and media industry as the best annual upfront presentation year after year for over the last half a decade since at least 2010.

MultiChoice says despite Animal Planet being removed from DStv, "customers will not miss out, as some of the much-loved shows will be available on the other Discovery channels, including shows such as Treehouse Masters, which will move to Discovery Channel, while shows such as Tanked and Insane Pools: Off The Deep End will move to Discovery Family."

MultiChoice says it will be launching a new channel from Discovery in mid-2018 with some of Discovery's other animal and wildlife content that will be made available on this unnamed channel as well.

Animal Planet has been left out of a new MultiChoice carriage deal with Discovery Networks International that will see the Discovery Channel, TLC Entertainment, Discovery Family and Investigation Discovery (ID) continue on the DStv platform.

MultiChoice says the new carriage agreement includes "extended video-on-demand and Catch Up hours for Discovery’s entire portfolio" and for the first time TLC Entertainment, ID and Discovery Family shows".

"All four of Discovery’s channels will be available to launch on DStv Now from early 2018, meaning DStv customers will be able to enjoy the best of Discovery, anywhere, any time".

MultiChoice will also upgrade ID, Discovery Family and TLC Entertainment to high definition (HD) channels on DStv soon.

"Our customers love the Discovery family of channels and we're pleased that we could renew this agreement, including offering this world-class content to our customers wherever they are, to watch whenever they are ready," says Yolisa Phahle, CEO: General Entertainment at MultiChoice.

Discovery has included a statement in the MultiChoice statement, but isn't saying anything about the axing of Animal Planet.

"Our channels and content have been providing hours of enjoyment for DStv customers for many years and we’re thrilled to continue this legacy, with an unbeatable slate of programming across our portfolio which, thanks to this renewed agreement, DStv customers will now be able to access whenever and however it suits them," says Dilek Doyran, the vice president and country manager for Africa at Discovery Networks CEEMEA.

Discovery has been asked again for a comment on Thursday on Animal Planet's axing after confirmation that the channel will be removed from DStv.

When or if Discovery CEEMEA responds about its channel leaving the airwaves in South Africa after 14 years, that response will be added here.

Discovery's TLC Entertainment (DStv 135) channel will also from January 2018 revert back to just being called TLC and will be dropping the "Entertainment" add-on from its name, TVwithThinus has confirmed.

Discovery changed TLC to TLC Entertainment in October 2013 when it added programming from Oprah Winfrey's OWN but after 4 years it is now changing back to just TLC.

According to Discovery the move of TLC Entertainment back to just TLC is part of a wider global brand alignment. "The channel itself and its content will remain the same," says Discovery.