Learn about the history of The Discovery Channel & watch free Discovery Channel live streaming
One of the most popular television networks, that has also converted its services to live streaming is the Discovery Channel. The channel was known as The Discovery Channel from 1985 to 1995 but is now simply called “Discovery”.
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The American multinational pay television network and flagship channel owned by Discovery, Inc., is a publicly traded company run by CEO David Zaslav. The Discovery Channel was the third most widely distributed subscription channel in the United States, in June 2012 right behind TBS and The Weather Channel. The channel is currently available in 409 million households worldwide, through its U.S. flagship channel as well as various owned or licensed television channels internationally.
Discovery has become renowned because of its original format which was documentary television programming. Since 2010 it has expanded into reality television and pseudo-scientific entertainment. The Discovery Channel is available in approximately 88,589,000 pay television households in the United States.
The idea for the channel was born out of John Hendricks’ channel and parent company, Cable Educational Network Inc., in 1982. His idea seemed needed for television at the time and he was able to secure funding from the BBC, Allen & Company and Venture America. The company raised $5 million in start-up capital to launch the network.
They would begin broadcasting on June 17, 1985. Starting with just 156,000 households and a 12-hour broadcast schedule, the company was able to grow exponentially into the popular Discovery of today. What helped it to become a staple in American households was the fact that about three-quarters of its program content had never been broadcast on U.S. television.
The channel continually grew in popularity as it focused mainly on educational programming in the form of cultural and wildlife documentaries, and science and historical specials. They also expanded their reach and even had some Soviet programming during this time, including the news program Vremya.
The channel premiered the nightly program World Monitor in 1988. That show was produced by The Christian Science Monitor. In that same year, they launched one of their most successful campaigns to date called Shark Week. At first, it was just a promotional stunt. However, the week-long event kept growing in popularity and in the 1990s it became a summer staple. Also, of note in 1990 for Discovery, was the fact that the channel was now available in over 50 million households.
As with many channels, the company took the decision to evolve and began trying to attract a broader audience in the 2000s. This resulted in more reality-based series focusing on automotive, occupations, and speculative investigation series. Even with this new vision, subscriptions and ratings began falling off for the channel.
Experts believed that the decline came because of an over-reliance on a few hit series, such as Monster Garage and American Chopper. This clear move away from educational content seems to have discouraged viewers from the channel. Discovery then once again shifted focus in 2005 and changed much of its programming to include more popular science and historical themes. This would prove successful as their ratings returned.
In 2006, as a result of new management staff, the network was nominated for seven Primetime Emmy Awards that year for shows including The Flight that Fought Back which was a documentary about the hijacking of United Airlines Flight 93 and Deadliest Catch which is still a popular reality series that revolves around a group of seafood fishermen.
Hostage situation of 2010
A 43-year-old man, named James Jay Lee, forcefully entered the headquarters of Discovery Communications headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, on September 1, 2010. The incident would result in his death. According to reports on the incident, he entered the building armed with a handgun.
He fired at least one shot and held several employees hostage. Eventually, he was shot dead by police. It was discovered after the ordeal that Lee had published criticisms of the network at Savetheplanetprotest.com.
Discovery Communications launched its TV Everywhere service in 2015. With this new effort, the channel was able to offer Discovery Go, which features live and video-on-demand content from Discovery Channel and eight of its sister networks.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular shows on Discovery:
- Manhunt (II) (2017– )
- Top Gear (2002– )
- Gold Rush (2010– )
- Crimson Tide (1995)
- Alaskan Bush People (2014– )
- Planet Earth (2006)
- Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)
- Naked and Afraid (2013– )
- Naked and Afraid (2013– )
- MythBusters (2003– )