Can Discovery’s TestTube Transform Online TV?

Discovery Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:DISCA) is launching an online video network called TestTube that will target the young, male demographic the company has been struggling to engage through pay-TV service.

Traditional TV networks have been facing competition from online video sources, which are more popular among a younger audience than cable TV. The Discovery Channel lost 6 percent of its viewers in the 18-34 age group in the last year, and is looking to get some of them back with the online network.

TestTube, which was designed for a young male audience, will carrying programming similar to the Discovery Channel with some added testosterone. Some of the series will include “Lacie Green’s Sex+” about human sexuality, a weekly “Thanks Disaster” about how natural disasters can sometimes have positive side effects, and the self explanatory “Mother Nature Can and Will Mess You Up.” Later this summer “Mythbusters” star Tory Belleci will host “Let’s Blow It Up!”

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TestTube will be an ad-supported, free-to-consumer network that will be available on and through Google-owned (NASDAQ:GOOG) YouTube. Discovery would like to extend service to Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) TV, Roku boxes, TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO) DVRs, smartphones, and tablet devices including the iPad and Android.

Discovery purchased online video network Revision3 for about $30 million last year and will be launching the online network out of that division. Discovery chief digital officer J.B. Perrette said of TestTube, “This is another step in our mission to be the No. 1 nonfiction video and media company on all screens.”

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Other networks have also invested in online video providers as young people increasingly watch more TV online than through traditional cable sources. Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX) made a $36 million investment in YouTube Maker studios in December, and DreamWorks Animation (NASDAQ:DWA) recently bought YouTube teen network Awesomeness TV for $33 million.

Discovery is expecting TestTube to nab 10 million monthly views right away, and the network is looking to double that number by the end of the year as more content is added.

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