Categories Consumer, Earnings Call Transcripts

Discovery, Inc. (DISCA) Q4 2020 Earnings Call Transcript

DISCA Earnings Call - Final Transcript

Discovery, Inc. (NASDAQ: DISCA) Q4 2020 earnings call dated Feb. 22, 2021

Corporate Participants:

Andrew Slabin — Executive Vice President, Global Investor Strategy

David M. Zaslav — President and Chief Executive Officer

Gunnar Wiedenfels — Chief Financial Officer

Jean-Briac Perrette — President and Chief Executive Officer, Discovery International

Analysts:

Robert Fishman — MoffettNathanson LLC — Analyst

Steven Cahall — Wells Fargo Securities — Analyst

Douglas Mitchelson — Credit Suisse — Analyst

Kutgun Maral — RBC Capital Markets — Analyst

Benjamin Swinburne — Morgan Stanley — Analyst

John Hodulik — UBS — Analyst

Richard Greenfield — LightShed Partners — Analyst

Alexia Quadrani — J.P. Morgan — Analyst

Michael Morris — Guggenheim Securities — Analyst

Presentation:

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the Discovery, Inc. Fourth Quarter and Full-Year 2020 Earnings Call. [Operator Instructions] Please be advised that today’s conference may be recorded. [Operator Instructions]

I would now like to hand the conference over to your speaker today, Mr. Andrew Slabin, Executive Vice President, Global Investor Strategy. Sir, you may begin.

Andrew Slabin — Executive Vice President, Global Investor Strategy

Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us for Discovery’s Q4 earnings call. Joining me today are David Zaslav, President and Chief Executive Officer; Gunnar Wiedenfels, Chief Financial Officer; and JB Perrette, President and CEO of Discovery Networks International.

You should have received our earnings release, but if not, feel free to access it on our website at www.corporate.discovery.com.

On today’s call, we will begin with some opening comments from David and Gunnar and then we will open the call to take questions.

Before we start, I’d like to remind you that comments today regarding the Company’s future business plans, prospects and financial performance are forward-looking statements that we make pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are made based on management’s current knowledge and assumptions about future events and they involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from our expectations. In providing projections and other forward-looking statements, the Company disclaims any intent or obligation to update them. For additional information on important factors that could affect these expectations, please see our Form 10-K and our subsequent filings made with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

And with that, I’d like to turn the call over to David.

David M. Zaslav — President and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, and I hope everyone is having a great start to 2021, and we thank you all for joining us here today. This is a dynamic time for Discovery. The past year has been one of change, challenge and opportunity, during which, we’ve shown incredible resilience, creativity and focus as one global team, from navigating the pandemic to generating meaningful momentum towards our strategic pivot, Discovery has responded with drive and determination. This is also a unique time for us, because as we are working hard to solidify our core linear business, in which we continue to meaningfully outperform, we are repositioning the Company against a massive new opportunity in streaming, where we already see very positive signals and signs that taken together with the durability of our core business will nicely position the Company for sustainable long-term growth. Sustainable long-term growth, that is our mission and we are laser focused on delivering.

We finished 2020 with strong operating momentum and great command of control across our global businesses, delivering top line improvements across virtually every key operating metric since the pandemic hit, while maintaining strong discipline over our expenses, without sacrificing quality or missing a beat in our creative execution. We were even able to return nearly $1 billion of capital to shareholders in equity buybacks. We learned a lot as we managed through 2020 and our tenacity and agility, which is truly at the heart of Discovery took center stage. The impact of our content, either as measured in terms of global share growth or simply in the way people sought us out for comfort and nourishment during a difficult time, became more relevant and more of the moment like never before. We encouraged our talent to bring us into their kitchens, gardens, living rooms, with iPhones and GoPros, and it was a game-changer.

When most of our peers showed all the repeats, we became closer to real and more authentic on air. And that provided a great boost of adrenaline across the Company, and our talent partners and refined our IP all around the globe. And I’m even more excited about 2021 and the meaningful progress we are making in our strategic pivot, while at the same time, working hard to support our core linear networks business and reinforcing its importance as a critical part of our total consumer offering.

Discovery+ is off to a fantastic start and we couldn’t be more encouraged by all of the early metrics. After seven weeks since launching here in the US, we have over 11 million paying direct-to-consumer subscribers across our entire portfolio, and we will hit 12 million by the end of this month of February, an increase of 7 million net adds as compared to 5 million subs we reported in December. The vast majority of this increase is attributable to discovery+, and substantially more than half of the 7 million ads are paying discovery+ subscribers in the United States. And we are really just getting started international. As this comes without adding any new markets other than our previous Dplay markets that we rebranded to discovery+. For example, we’ve relaunched Italy just a few weeks ago, and the UK in Q4 2020, both of which are off to a strong start.

Given our ownership and control of all of our content, our increasingly relevant content expect us to light up markets globally over the next 18 months or so. And in many key markets, we intend to partner with key distributors such as we did with Vodafone and Sky. These discussions are active and going very well. And our existing momentum is helping facilitate these conversations as distributors remain keen to provide incremental value to their subscribers as a means of leveraging their pipe and decommoditizing their offering. In both regards, we are a fantastic partner. We bring strong global and local IP at really superior value. We are by far the best value to consumers and distributors in a global SVOD service in the marketplace, helped by our financial model and the fact that we own all of our global IP.

The rollout of the discovery+ platform has been nearly flawless without any technological disruptions or outages. The discovery+ product launched with all major platforms and devices, Roku, Fire, Android, Apple, Samsung and there’s more to come. And we came to market with an ambitious slate of over 1,000 original hours over the coming year. Stay tuned for further delivery partnerships such as partnerships with cable operators and other connected TV platforms, all of which move us further along as our goal to be among the most widely available platforms to consumers everywhere on the globe with easy access to consumers in every language.

Importantly, consumers love the discovery+ product, and it shows, with all key operating metrics, pointing in the right direction. We’re seeing very high consumer engagement and high video starts, an incredible 93% of our entire 55,000 episode library has been watched, indicating a very healthy long tail of content that is immense value to consumers now that we’ve made it available. We’re also seeing high retention over the first 60 days, as well as strong monetization that is already translating into incremental value. Gunnar will provide some additional details on financial context. But, in short, stronger operating performance across the board is contributing to a better than expected financial profile and accelerating next-gen revenue growth in Q1 and thereafter. Very healthy role to pay in initial signs of lower churn than we initially modeled, we’ll drive accelerating sequential domestic affiliate fee growth, even over Q4’s impressive 5% growth rate as we begin to layer discovery+ on top of our core base resulting in at least high-single, if not, double-digit affiliate growth in the following quarter.

We now have over 100 advertisers and brands on the platform in the US and we expect to double that by the end of Q2. Our team is working hard at implementing our feature-rich product roadmap. We are now offering contextual keyword targeting and interactive ads will rollout by the end of Q1 with pause and binge ads scheduled for Q2. And as the subscriber base further scales, the benefits of combining the intelligence and data mining capabilities on our end, together with advertiser first-party data, will represent a significant opportunity for us and our advertising partners.

We are already an industry leader when it comes to time spent with our linear portfolio, yet, watch time on discovery+ in the US is nearly twice that, this naturally has been extremely well received by our advertising and brand partners, which coupled with initial signs that discovery+ extends effective reach to non-pay TV viewers gives us even more conviction and confidence in the long-term ARPU trajectory. In fact, our ad-light ARPU in the US is already above linear and we are just getting started. As we scale and usage continues, we are confident our ARPU will grow meaningfully.

Internationally, JB and our product and engineering teams are hard at work transitioning our former Dplay and Eurosport Player platforms to our new discovery+ global product, in time for the Tokyo Olympics and the Beijing Games not long thereafter. discovery+ will be the streaming home of the games in Europe with access to every minute, every medal and every hero, live and on-demand. Having this product integration completed will enable us to then execute more of our ambitious international expansion plan in the back half of the year as I previously noted. Taken together, discovery+ has successfully launched as a truly differentiated product with a fantastic consumer experience, best-in-class product reviews and terrific word of mouth, which is ultimately the most effective form of marketing.

We are being educated every day on what’s working and what’s not and are responding rapidly to iterate and experiment. We are utilizing all of our levers to effectively and efficiently acquire and retain subscribers, including a growing list of global partnerships with many of the world’s leading distributors, and exciting pipeline of originals that we believe will surprise and delight consumers in a brand campaign that is unrivaled in our history.

The team is doing a lot right and we are seeing the pay-off in subscriber additions and engagement. For which, we believe there is no better use of our capital and resources than to continue to support these efforts as a means to drive shareholder value. With the very healthy metrics we’ve seen thus far, scaling our discovery+ subscriber base as quickly as possible is the best use of our free cash flow as we eye sustainable long-term financial growth for the overall Discovery Company. Our first and foremost priority has always been and will always be to reinvest in our business to drive organic growth. Our powerful launch serves as a strong confirmation of what we have been hard at work building over the last many years, and that which the acquisition of Scripps help to accelerate. We have spent years amassing and cultivating the most popular real-life entertainment content, brands and personalities, all with a focus on nurturing and delighting our fans across multiple video ecosystems: pay, free and streaming. It’s having a real impact and an impact we expect will continue to grow.

Investing in high-quality premium programs across the entirety of our platforms has always been our North Star. In fact, at a time when many of our peers are taking their foot off the gas, we expect to increase our spend on fresh content to support our linear networks this year. This further reinforces our strong value proposition to our distribution partners. Indeed, we believe the basic pay-TV bundle is integral and relevant and offers an incredible value proposition to an important and large segment of consumers. Discovery is a true global IP Company in every sense of the word. One of the very few true global IP companies, and growing our vault of great stories and series has laid the groundwork for the critical next steps we are taking. Evolving from a pay-TV and free-to-air Company into a scaling global streaming player.

Discovery’s mission is to play hard in traditional free-to-air and cable with fantastic margins and free cash flow, and play harder in direct-to-consumer, while we are uniquely positioned to achieve long-term sustainable growth.

With that, let me now turn it over to Gunnar.

Gunnar Wiedenfels — Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, David, and good morning, everyone. Echoing David’s comments, 2020 was indeed a year that presented its fair share of challenges, likewise, it stress-tested our Company in unprecedented ways. Looking back, I’m extraordinarily proud of both how our team reacted to such disruption, as well as how we proactively leaned forward into our strategic pivot. I do believe we accomplished a tremendous amount in 2020 operationally, financially, managerially and strategically, and it set us up for a great start to 2021 and beyond, which I will discuss in more detail shortly.

But first to briefly recap Q4, a very solid set of results across the board. Starting with US networks, advertising revenues were consistent with the prior year, supported by an ad market that continued to show signs of recovery, as well as a general tightening of the marketplace due to political spend. Following a generally advantageous upfront market, we saw extremely healthy scatter CPMs up in the high 20% range versus upfront and up high-single digits year-over-year. And that trend has continued into the first quarter with scatter CPMs up around 40% versus upfront and up mid-teens year-over-year. While unbalanced, demand has returned in most categories to year-ago levels, a number of verticals such as travel, movie studios and restaurant chains still remain challenged.

US distribution revenues increased a very solid 5% year-over-year during the fourth quarter as pricing more than offset subscriber declines, supporting a nice acceleration from Q3. We benefited from a combination of a slower pace of subscriber declines, the impact from recent renewals and our continued strength across virtual MVPDs. Subscribers to our core fully distributed networks declined by 3%, while our total portfolio subscribers declined by 5%.

Now, turning to International Networks for the fourth quarter, which I will discuss on a constant currency basis. Advertising revenues decreased 1% year-over-year led primarily by continuing sequential improvements across many of our key markets and some like the UK, Germany, Poland and certain APAC countries finished the fourth quarter with positive growth, while other markets such as across Latin America are still exhibiting COVID-related weakness. Distribution revenues decreased 4% year-over-year. We continue to see modest subscriber churn from more economically challenged countries in Latin America. Furthermore, COVID-related disruption in the sports scheduled throughout 2020 continued to impact our Eurosport performance in the fourth quarter, as well as continued headwinds in overall pricing primarily in EMEA.

Total operating expenses were up 5% during the quarter. Cost of revenues were up 6%, largely due to the condensing of the sports schedule into the back half of the year and continued ramp and content investments to support our next-generation initiatives.

SG&A increased 3% as we invested in marketing and branding promotion ahead of the launch of discovery+, as well as personnel and technology spending to support our initiatives.

And as we guided, we finished 2020 with total operating expenses flat year-over-year ex-FX, as we reallocated spend and we continue to target a low- to mid-single-digit percentage reduction in our core linear businesses as we support our next-gen endeavors.

Turning to free cash flow. We finished 2020 with over $2.3 billion in free cash flow, a 56% AOIBDA to free cash flow conversion rate, a great finish considering the volatility and headwinds we faced this past year and still due to an extent from disruptions related to COVID, while at the same time, having absorbed a meaningful step up in D2C investments. And as we guided to at our December Investor Day, we continue to expect to convert at least 50% of our AOIBDA to free cash flow this year.

Now, turning to discovery+, which is off to a very impressive start. And though it’s early in our launch in global rollout, we are very pleased with all of the early metrics. First, we have now surpassed 11 million total global paying direct-to-consumer subscribers after less than 60 days since the launch in the US. The majority of which are attributed to discovery+ and more than half of the subscriber additions were in the US. And as David mentioned, we will hit 12 million global paying subscribers by the end of the month. Second, importantly, both role to pay and churn have been better than planned and while early, these represent critical variables in our modeling.

Third engagement, as measured by average watch time per active viewer, has been robust and already significantly ahead of linear. Fourth, this engagement along with advertisers and brands eager to embrace our subscriber base is driving higher CPMs. It is worth pointing out the value our advertisers see in the portion of our subscriber base that are not currently pay-TV subscribers, delivering much needed incremental reach to the video advertising ecosystem. This, as well, has contributed to very healthy ad monetization that is already well ahead of plan.

Number five, this has led to ARPU for our ad-light product that has already surpassed average linear ARPU and we see further upside as we drive scale in subscribers, the key tenant we laid out for you in early December.

Number six, early signs of churn are within our expectations, if not better, which taken together with the monetization framework I provided are contributing to a higher implied customer lifetime value than our initial modeling.

Number seven, finally, subscriber acquisition costs have so far come in very favorably, especially compared with the evolving customer lifetime value. Consequently, taking these early data points together, we see both a very strong start to a next-gen revenue growth in 2021 with Q1 poised to grow around 50% with meaningful acceleration in the quarters thereafter, and a much more attractive investment opportunity around subscriber growth.

Given discovery+ net adds, the majority of which are in the US, we should also enjoy a more direct tailwind to our domestic distribution growth profile this quarter. As such, we expect Q1 domestic distribution revenue to increase at least high-single digits, if not, low-double digits year-over-year, a meaningful acceleration from the last quarter. I must say I like the sound of that candidly, it’s been a while since we have had a growth profile like that for domestic distribution.

While the advertisers embrace for discovery+ has been great and will help to support our overall advertising profile as we scale, we expect a modest sequential headwind to Q1 US advertising revenues, in part related to macro factors, as well as the launch of discovery+, where we are leaning in with more of our inventory to promote the service. We have embarked on an aggressive branding and performance marketing campaign, and we are seeing efficient SAC. As I noted earlier, and with SAC so favorable to CLV, we expect to lean into this opportunity in a greater way and we now expect to see greater incremental next-generation losses than the $200 million to $300 million initially described. This could potentially be a couple of hundred million more, but it’s too early to pinpoint a finer range. I am very confident to categorize this as success-based spending. We do, however, still see 2021 as representing the peak year for losses from our investment initiatives.

Which brings us to capital allocation, where our first priority is to reinvest in our business to drive long-term growth and shareholder value. And for the near-term, the most productive use of our free cash flow will be to drive discovery+ subscribers. Thus, you should not expect us to be in the market buying back our equity in the near-term, though, as we gain additional clarity around requisite spend to support our rollout, we will, of course, revisit the buyback. We finished 2020 at approximately 3.3 times net leverage, through 2021 due to timing factors around spend and the Olympic Games, our leverage may, at times, trend above our target range. Though, we and the rating agencies are comfortable with this outlook, particularly as we remain committed to our investment-grade rating.

Now, turning to a couple of housekeeping items to help you with forecasting 2021. We expect our effective book tax rate to remain in the low-20% range while our cash tax rate, excluding PPA, will be in the mid-20% range. And finally, we are budgeting FX to have a positive $170 million year-over-year impact on revenues and a neutral year-over-year impact on AOIBDA.

In closing, we are incredibly excited by the initial success of discovery+ and remain as enthusiastic as ever as we position the Company for a long-term sustained growth. Clearly, lot more to accomplish given only a few months in and we look forward to updating you on our progress.

Thank you again for joining us. With that, I’d like to turn it over to the operator for the Q&A portion of the call and David, JB and I will be happy to take your questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. [Operator Instructions] And our first question comes from Robert Fishman from MoffettNathanson. Your line is open.

Robert Fishman — MoffettNathanson LLC — Analyst

Hi. Good morning. Can you be a little bit more specific about the cadence of the international rollout for discovery+ in the next few months? And have your partners, like Vodafone, really started to ramp up on the marketing to their sub-base yet?

And then while clearly still early, anything you can help share on the international monetization of the subscriber base and if you’re seeing higher ARPU levels there relative to your linear subscriber base? Thank you very much.

David M. Zaslav — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Robert. And as I mentioned, we’re really just getting started. We’ve built a robust platform, but in order to roll it out globally, it needs to be modified. It needs to be modified to be embedded with Vodafone, to be embedded with Telecom Italia, each of the different distributors. We’re working on getting it embedded with a number of the cable players domestically and around the world. We have rebranded Dplay, discovery+. As you know, our strategy outside the US, which we think is really unique, is local entertainment, local non-fiction, local sport in Europe and local entertainment, local nonfiction around the world. And that library from the last 25 to 30 years of local content really differentiates us from Netflix and Disney. It makes us a great companion if you’re putting together a bundle.

So, we are seeing some real growth in the few markets that we’ve launched in. We’re using the Olympics as a forcing mechanism where we’re looking to rebuild the platform. So that coming out of the — we’re ready with the Olympics all across Europe. And then coming out of that, we’ll be able to rollout. But, for instance, Vodafone will not be for a little while. But JB, why don’t you give some more specifics?

Jean-Briac Perrette — President and Chief Executive Officer, Discovery International

Yeah. So, Robert, as David mentioned, we are obviously undergoing a significant amount of work to re-platform. Basically, what that means is our front-end product that was the former Dplay product in Europe was built on a different front-end platform than our US product. And so, as we do two things, one is migrate the US product to be our global product. We have some important kind of infrastructure work to get done here in advance with the Olympics. And number two is, we talked about in back in December, we will be collapsing our Eurosport Player product into discovery+. And so, we need to also do some work to incorporate that product into discovery+. Both of those things are the — our primary focus in taking up a fair amount of our engineering and product bandwidth over the course of the next four or five months pre-Olympics. So that’s going to be the primary focus and getting that right in the first half of this year. As we come out of the Olympics and go into the second half of the year, that’s when you’re going to see the acceleration of the international rollouts. And so, that’s the timeframe I think about.

The — and using Vodafone specifically since you mentioned it, really that will be a back half of ’21 and even bleeding several markets into ’22, as well as we launch with them. And then the third thing in terms of ARPU, the only thing I’d say there is, what we do know and what we’ve seen so far is, these retail partnerships with the Vodafone and others, as well as our direct-to-consumer, the premium and the multiples over our wholesale model internationally, are still easily 3x to 4x the pricing that we see in our existing wholesale model. So we see a lot of pricing advantage in the discovery+ model and the partnerships we have versus our existing business.

Robert Fishman — MoffettNathanson LLC — Analyst

Great. Thank you, both.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Steven Cahall from Wells Fargo. Your line is open.

Steven Cahall — Wells Fargo Securities — Analyst

Yeah, thanks. Maybe first, just wondering if you could update us on what sort of ARPU trends you’re seeing on discovery+. How those are performing versus your expectation? And maybe how those split between US and international, and subscription versus advertising?

And then, David, I was wondering if you could give us an update on Magnolia in terms of timing? And you mentioned the Olympics and the golf season, but are there any other big content events that we should be mindful of during the year that might drive subscriber acquisition on discovery+? Thanks.

David M. Zaslav — President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure. Why don’t I start — I’ll start with Magnolia. Chip and Jo have been huge supporters of discovery+ and, for the audience around the world, and particularly here in the US, the delight with the fact that Fixer Upper is back, Magnolia Table with Jo, really strong, all exclusive to discovery+, as well as the slate that we’ve been developing and they as Chief Creative Officers have been creating is on discovery+. The good news is, there’s a huge amount of incremental content coming from them, as well as all the content that we were putting on Magnolia, all of that will continue to be on discovery+.

We’ve come up with a really creative partnership, because Magnolia itself is a huge business for them and a transactional business. And so, we will be launching an app together where people can go and take all kinds of classes, they can do workshops, they can transact business with the Magnolia product, they can transact business with Chip — with a number of things that Chip and Jo will be cured rating. But all the content that’s developed will be on discovery+. So effectively, when it launches, whatever number of subs that we have will be subs that will have the Magnolia app available to it. So, it’s really a win-win. It becomes effectively part of us and they — we become part of them, they become part of us. And it’s one and one equals two.

Gunnar Wiedenfels — Chief Financial Officer

Okay. Steven, let me take the question on ARPU. So a couple of points, what we’re seeing so far and remember, it’s early days. But starting with the US, I think the most important point that I’ve looked at is our ability to monetize the advertising side for the ad-light subscribers. And I’m super pleased with what we’re seeing there. And we have this bogey of getting 3 times the CPM compared to linear, we’re on a very good track here. We’re already making more on a per sub basis altogether with these ad-light subscribers, compared to the linear ecosystem. So that’s great.

Obviously, the price points for the ad-free product. And I should say that the subscriber base is queuing a little more towards ad-free given the relative attractiveness of the price point here, I think. But so for the US side, so far ahead of expectations. Internationally, as JB said, the most important point is, we’re expecting a multiple delta between what we’re achieving here on the direct-to-consumer side compared with linear. But I also want to say it’s early days and especially on the international side, driven by the deal cadence, etc., so that number could move around a little. That’s why you’re not going to hear us talk a lot about ARPU specifically, I would like you guys to focus on the next-generation revenue, that’s why we gave the growth guidance there and it’s a very compelling story, I think. We grew 18% in 2020. Fourth quarter was up 26% for next-generation revenue. We’re now looking at roughly 50% for the first quarter and I expect that number — that growth to further accelerate as we go through the year. So, top to bottom, I think very, very encouraging first results here.

Jean-Briac Perrette — President and Chief Executive Officer, Discovery International

The one other thing, Gunnar, if I might add just on for the international is that, based on the success we’ve seen in the last 45 days on the US ad-light product, that’s really not a product that we’ve rolled out anywhere internationally. And we see an opportunity there to take that same model with the same higher ARPU and take it around the world. And so, as we — part of the re-platforming, we talked about just a minute ago, is going to enable us to offer an ad-light and an ad-free product as we take discovery+ around the world. And I think in a number of markets, particularly in Europe with our big advertising footprint there, that we think there’s going to be additional opportunity for higher ARPU growth with both products and both tiers in market at the same time.

Steven Cahall — Wells Fargo Securities — Analyst

Great. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Doug Mitchelson from Credit Suisse. Your line is open.

Douglas Mitchelson — Credit Suisse — Analyst

Thanks so much, and congratulations to David and the team on the successful launch. A couple of questions for Gunnar and a couple for David. Gunnar, one of the things that seem pretty conservative at the Analyst Day was your target margin of 20% for streaming. Is it fair to say you’re pacing well beyond that given some of the metrics you laid out? And if you threw all this into a blender, what kind of margins would you get sort of a terminal basis for streaming? And a clarification Gunnar, you said CPMs were up 40% over the upfront 1Q, you said up mid-teens year-over-year, not to be sort of too in the weeds but is that sort of books to date or is that your anticipation of how the quarter is tracking, including the March period last year where it fell off?

And, for David, when you think about the usage of the research you’ve done so far, I know it’s early days. How do you feel about the idea? Is this superfans coming in and racing to try your streaming service? Is this just a mix of subscribers that you think is sustainable and normal and not overly driven by superfans? Or what’s your anticipation there?

And then, lastly, David, if you wouldn’t mind on content and investment. It seems like, at least our track, and you’ll tell me how far off we are. It seems like shows represent about 9% of your linear viewing as seen their originals debut on streaming. Is that sort of the right mix? Are you thinking of ramping that more aggressively or is the originals that you have coming means that the linear is going to sort of stay with the content level that it has right now? Anyways, thanks for all that.

David M. Zaslav — President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure. Thanks, Doug. Right now, it seems quite broad. We’re getting subscribers from our broad marketing. We’re seeing subscribers coming in from our own marketing on our own platforms. We’re seeing a lot of digital. The age is really across the board. A lot of that has to do, I think with the great work that Disney has done in acclimating people. The encouraging thing is that, we see good numbers about people once they know about the product, wanting to have the product. And we’re — one of the reasons that we’re marketing is, we think we’ve got a great product than we need more people to understand what it is for 60 days in with a product called discovery+, we’ve had to do a lot of work. It’s a great brand that people love. But we had to explain that it’s home, food, Chip and Jo, crime, Oprah Winfrey. It’s — and there’s all of this — all the stuff that the people like. So that was number one. The role to pay has been terrific. The amount of time people have been spending on is terrific. And so, right now, it looks good. We can’t tell you how big the market is. But right now, it feels like we’re often running.

In terms of the content that we’re moving around, we’re really experimenting and the interesting thing is, the way our product work so far is, it’s very different than Disney or Netflix. We have this massive library and when we say what’s trending, if you took all the top shows that are trending and put them all together, it represents less than 10% of what people are watching. And so, it’s — we have such a diversity of content. When you talk about scripted series and scripted movies, where you have eight people playing that game, they’re going there for a scripted series and they tend — or they’re going there for a movie. For us, since we’ve pulled together that other 50%, they’re watching Discovery stuff. They’re going in and watching Prince William and Environmental Documentary. And other people are going in there and watching the fact that we have the largest crime library or paranormal or food fans.

So, we are just experimenting, we’re moving some — we’re moving things around. But we still have a full commitment to the existing bundle. We are the bundle. I mean, it’s basically news, sports and us. And a lot of the other players are now in — they are in repeat mode. And for us, we have a real equitable argument. I was talking with some of our operators over the weekend about the amount of original content that we’re still doing and the amount of viewership that we’re getting on the platform. And so, we think we could do both and we’re experimenting moving things between the two.

Gunnar Wiedenfels — Chief Financial Officer

All right. Doug, on your other two financial questions here, the margin, look, I mean, I gave that, at least 20% number, because I was very, very confident that we’d be able to hit it. If you look at what we’ve learned since then every metric has come in better. So, I think it’s safe to say that that’s even more conservative from today’s perspective. At the same time, there may be some sort of pulling impact forward or so. So, I’m not in a position to give a new estimate, now we’re focused on building this product out and optimizing this now. But I feel very, very good about the margin potential in the long run.

And then, on the CPM side, just to clarify, the 40% are based on what we’re seeing in our bookings. I think that was your other question, right?

Douglas Mitchelson — Credit Suisse — Analyst

Yeah. But also the mid-teens year-over-year, is that like pacing against the full 1Q of last year or just bookings to date for the quarter?

Gunnar Wiedenfels — Chief Financial Officer

That’s based on what’s on the books right now for the same period of last year. But as I said, I mean, we do — as I said a couple of minutes ago, we do expect a modest headwind because we’re using some of our inventory for our own promotion. So we’ll have somewhat limited visibility, etc., right, keep that in mind as well, please.

Douglas Mitchelson — Credit Suisse — Analyst

Thank you, both.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Kutgun Maral from RBC Capital Markets. Your line is open.

Kutgun Maral — RBC Capital Markets — Analyst

Great. Thank you for taking the questions. First, you’re clearly more bullish on DTC today than you were maybe just a few months ago. You’re ramping investments even more, early subscriber KPIs sound very attractive, whether it’s CPMs or churn. I guess, I’ll give it another shot and ask if you’d be willing to provide any thoughts on what DTC subscriber levels you expect to achieve whether it’s US or international or 2021 or even looking at further, just any framework would be helpful?

And then, secondly, how do we think about the GO apps and what that business looks like going forward as you ramp and pivot even more into discovery+? Thanks.

David M. Zaslav — President and Chief Executive Officer

Let me talk about GO, which is really our AVOD, where we’re getting terrific CPMs. It’s been a great feeder, a really terrific, terrific feeder for us, which is really an efficient conversion. And it’s really, we have a holistic view here. We have our traditional business with great margins, where we continue to — which we think outside the US, it’s declining, but at a much slower rate than in the US. But in the US, we’re seeing some stability. We expect that it will decline, but we really like our position there. And we have the GO AVOD, where we have a very young demo and very good economics. And people continue to go there and the more people who can get to go there, the more people who can come over that want to get our SVOD service, which has a lot more stuff. So, we think it’s a — really like a great one, two, three combo and for advertisers, it’s terrific. So, we’re going to continue to look at the market. And as JB said, we’re evolving. We have a very low-priced product. Given the marketplace, it’s an unbelievable value. If you look at the value of us at $4.99 in ad-light versus everyone else, with the library we have in the originals, it’s terrific.

Outside the US, we can go a lot cheaper than that and still have a multiple of the ARPU that we get. But as JB said, we’re learning. We’ve been at this for five years, that’s how I think we took so much time to launch to figure out how do we get everything aligned. But the idea of AVOD, SVOD, ad-light and some, now we’re going to add SVOD with low commercials. But we’ll also, in some markets, we might want to put in a big front porch of AVOD. And we’ve been doing that in a couple of markets already and finding that that’s a real feeder. And the fact that we have advertisers in GO, that’s one of the reasons we have 100 advertisers in discovery+ right now. So, who knows where all this will be in five years. But right now we have great ARPU on our existing business domestically and around the world. We’re getting started. We’re way ahead of where we were and we like the metrics and we’re going to — we’ll just follow the consumer need.

I don’t know, JB, just — maybe a little on AVOD from your perspective?

Jean-Briac Perrette — President and Chief Executive Officer, Discovery International

Yeah. I think the interesting thing, back to David’s experimentation point is that, we have done some things, even in the course of the last 60 days, where we initially took down some content that was originally on GO and then put it back up. And, I guess, the point would be generally, to David’s point of, these are just incredibly additive customer segments. I think we look at each of these as being very additive customer segments and the GO performance so far, even in the course of discovery+, has continued to see the same high level of engagement as we had pre-discovery+ launch as we have post-discovery+ launch.

And so, from an engagement perspective, all indications are, which was again a little bit of our thesis back in December, which we obviously didn’t know 100% but that this could be not an either or but an and. And that so far, it is looking a lot more like an and, even though we might have expected back in December. And on GO, we’re still very pleased with the engagement and the level of usage that that platform is getting. And we have some new product innovations that we’re going to be rolling out over the course of the next couple of months that we think will continue to make that product ever more compelling. And so, we feel comfortable with that business continuing to be a good growth — a healthy growth driver for us going forward.

Gunnar Wiedenfels — Chief Financial Officer

And then maybe just to close out that last question. We’re still not in the position to give a long-term or short-term subscriber guidance here. We’re super happy with what we’re seeing. Again, top to bottom, ahead of expectations, we have a lot of distributions still coming down the pike. We’re really just getting started internationally. So that’s on the positive side. We’ll see. I don’t think there is a lot of value of us sort of discussing scenarios here.

Kutgun Maral — RBC Capital Markets — Analyst

Understood. Thank you, all.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Ben Swinburne from Morgan Stanley. Your line is open.

Benjamin Swinburne — Morgan Stanley — Analyst

Good morning. David, I wanted to ask you about your sort of content plans as you look at linear versus streaming in the US. I mean, I think of Discovery, you’ve been probably the most deliberate, I think in balancing what you deliver to your MVPD partners with what you are now building in streaming as I’m sure you’d agree others have gone much further sort of creating competitive products. Given the success so far in the US, I know it’s early, but also you hinted at a cable partnership in your prepared remarks. Are you feeling more kind of optimistic or comfortable putting your best IP on D2C versus linear in terms of exclusive, just give us a sense of your mindset sitting here today?

And then, Gunnar, you gave some advertising commentary for Q1. I’m just wondering if you could talk about the shape of the year. Obviously, the comps get pretty easy in Q2, Q3. And then would you be willing to give us what the next-gen revenues were in dollars last year? Thank you, everybody.

David M. Zaslav — President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure. Thanks, Ben. One of the great things as we get to see what people watch and how they watch and what they like. And I would say — I wouldn’t say best. I would say, different. We’re continuing to invest in our traditional channels around the world and that’s building our global IP library. And so, we’ll continue to do that. It’s still a great model. And we think it’s going to go on for quite some time. It’s also a terrific feeder. So, the people that are watching our cable channels are buying the product. People that are going to GO and seeing some of the product that they’ve downloaded and they like, they’re buying the product. So, we think it’s really advantageous to us to keep that nourished. And it’s good for us with our existing distributors because they appreciate that, that we’re key to the bundle and we’re supporting it.

Having said that, there were a number of things that we’re learning. Like if we do a big crime documentary, a big crime documentary, we could put it on ID and we have put it on ID. But some of those things are — they want to watch it when they want to watch it. When we did the Prince William documentary on the environment, on Discovery, I think it would have done well. It did unbelievably well in — on discovery+. Everybody wanted to see it. Same thing with Attenborough. I think a lot of the stuff that we have, some of that is different, but we are starting to get some clues on the kind of things that people like to have on a platform and watch whenever they want.

We also have seen that we’re getting a lot of comments that this is a service that people could watch sort of in two ways. One is, while they are cooking, they can — we added a feature where you can — almost like a synthetic channel, where if you love Fixer Upper and you love the Property Brothers and you love Guy Fieri, you can just put that into the app. And that’s what’ll run all day long. And so, on the one hand, you may really want to watch the Attenborough or this great crime documentary or Ina Garten is doing a great show with Melissa McCarthy. But you also may want to just put it on. So you have something really fun that you love to watch while you’re cooking or while you’re homeschooling the kids or while you’re working. And a lot of the SVOD products are — have — are there for intention, where you have a full-on focused intent to view, which we have and we have great content, great characters, great brands. But we also have this ability to be a companion.

With that content is on and it’s a great companion for you when you’re home, where it’s a great companion, we have your favorite show. So it’s a balance. And we’re looking — we think we could do both. Fantastic, differentiated content that people love and also the content and characters that they love that they can hang around with all day. Remember, Food and HG and ID, together with Fox News, are the four longest length of view cable networks in America, with our three being women and Fox News being men, and there’s a reason for that behaviorally. People sometimes want to have that on during the day and they can do that with our app. And so, we think both of those provide a value equation.

Gunnar Wiedenfels — Chief Financial Officer

And then, Ben, in terms of advertising, I mean, visibility is still limited. I’m not in a position to come up with a full-year outlook here. But, obviously, you’re right that the comps should start looking a little better from Q2 on. We’ve seen this sequential improvement. And as I said earlier, some of the international markets have actually already been — have already been up in Q4. And we see a strong momentum into Q1. It is early. I mean, I told you about pricing. We do have a great upfront, a deal in place, options are — option cancellations are looking good right now. But, again, we don’t have a ton of visibility. So we’ll see. But hopefully, the balance is going to skew positively starting Q2 here.

In terms of the next-gen revenue…

David M. Zaslav — President and Chief Executive Officer

Just want to — we did — we were able to make some two meaningful hires that have really been helping us. One is, we hired the Head of Sales for Hulu.

Jean-Briac Perrette — President and Chief Executive Officer, Discovery International

Jim Keller. Yeah.

David M. Zaslav — President and Chief Executive Officer

Jim Keller, who is really terrific. We have a great team, but how do we take ourselves to the next level? And then we just hired last week, the Head of…

Jean-Briac Perrette — President and Chief Executive Officer, Discovery International

Pato, CMO from Hulu…

David M. Zaslav — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. The CMO from Hulu to come over. And so, we brought over a lot of expertise here that we think in terms of selling our product, selling the digital product, getting someone that has years and years of experience of just doing that together with the very strong team that we have and Steinlauf is doing a fantastic job. And then take the great marketing team that we have, with all the strength and you’ve seen the campaign, and bring someone who has been doing just subscriber acquisition for the last eight years is going to help this Company really grow.

Gunnar Wiedenfels — Chief Financial Officer

Okay. Again, next-generation revenues, roughly $850 million in 2020 and again, that was a growth of 18% versus 2019, accelerating in the fourth quarter to 26%, accelerating in the first quarter now to roughly 50% and then accelerating from there and — to be quantified. But it’s a great story, I think.

Benjamin Swinburne — Morgan Stanley — Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from John Hodulik from UBS. Your line is open.

John Hodulik — UBS — Analyst

Okay. Great. Thanks, guys. Maybe for Gunnar, just a couple — some clarifications on some of the cost items. You talked about spending some more on the content spend, I think you guys have spent about $3 billion a year last couple of years. Can you give us a sense of the magnitude of the increase there?

And then on the guide, any chance you could sort of bucket some of the areas that you might spend, leaning into D2C with that incremental up to $200 million in EBITDA? That would be great. Thanks.

Gunnar Wiedenfels — Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. So starting with content spend, two things to keep in mind for this. One is, the Olympics is going to flow through with a very significant license fee, of course, in the third quarter. Other than that the content spend, on a consolidated basis for the entire Company is growing significantly. That’s part of that guide that we have given, obviously, with the focus on direct-to-consumer first products. But keep in mind, as David said, we’re experimenting with those windows for our content. And I think one of our great advantages has always been our ability to use that content across territories, across platforms and thereby further driving that efficiency. Yeah. But so, that’s one of the chunks that has always been part of this guidance.

I think in terms of what we see additional spend right now, first and foremost, it’s marketing. And again, I mean, I said it earlier, but given how our engagements in churn metrics and the monetization metrics are trending, our customer lifetime value looks much better than what we thought it was going to be in December and at the same time, subscriber acquisition has been incredibly efficient, a little better than what we’ve planned for. So that gap between customer lifetime value and SAC, it’s just very compelling and that’s the largest driver for us to really lean in, then spend more on the marketing side, all the way through the funnel, initially lot of top of the funnel marketing, but we’ll definitely keep firing on that performance marketing side as we go through the year here.

And then in addition to that, on the technology side as well, there is a lot of fast follow features that are in the pipeline. The team is working hard. JB already spoke about re-platforming. There is some work to do internationally as well. But again, all of that is going to help us accelerate the rollout here. It’s going to help us accelerate the advertising growth. David already mentioned binge ads and pause ads and interactive ads, etc., that are coming down the pike as early as March, April, May, etc. So, it’s very exciting. And again, from the CFO perspective, what gives me a lot of comfort is, this is success-based spend. If we’re going to toggle it up and down with what we see in terms of the performance of the product. And, again, I could not be more excited about this being the best use of our free cash flow right now.

John Hodulik — UBS — Analyst

Thanks, Gunnar.

Operator

Thank you. And our next question comes from Rich Greenfield from LightShed Partners. Your line is open.

Richard Greenfield — LightShed Partners — Analyst

Hi. Thanks for taking the question. Just sort of a follow-up to a couple of questions that have been asked. When you think about the discovery+ product to date, when we look at it 12 of the top 13 shows have been sort of shows that are on TV or on linear TV led by travel channels, ghost adventures. The only one that’s been exclusive to discovery+ has been actually Fixer Upper from Chip and Joanna. I guess, two thoughts come to mind. One, do you think your service is uniquely less exposed or less — need less original programing than other streaming services? Because people like watching your catalog content over and over. Two, do you think that Fixer Upper sort of points you in the direction of maybe Chip and Joanna shouldn’t be launching a cable network and it should just stay exclusive — their content should stay exclusive to discovery+?

And then just the last piece of that you mentioned pausing the share buyback to invest in discovery+. I guess, just given investor excitement over your stock and the huge move you’ve seen in your stock year-to-date, why not take advantage of it, actually sell stock, strengthen the balance sheet and actually invest even more in programming? Again, maybe you don’t need to spend that much on programming given what I mentioned before. So I’d just love your views on that whole subject.

David M. Zaslav — President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure. Let me start with the content. We’ve never made our entire library available before. So, one is, there’s a lot of excitement about being able to sit down and watch all MythBusters, look at all the seasons of Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers, go back and watch a bunch of lifetime movies all in one sitting. So, we’re making available this whole bucket of content, all the food — go back, Guy Fieri, spend an afternoon watching Diners and Dives. So, there is a lot of appeal in our full library.

Two, there’s a huge amount of original content, it is on there. That’s doing really well. The metrics are really not the same for us. If you take those 12 — top 12 shows, that’s less than 10% of what’s viewed on the platform. So, I’m not on the inside of these other SVOD platforms, but when they launch a big movie or they launch a big series, if they name three, it might be 30% of the viewing or the 40% of viewing. For us, it’s less than 10%. So, our product is a lot of long-tail when you — and a lot of the original content is very helpful, I think, because it makes — it is clear that it’s differentiated. One of the reasons why a lot of people that have GO are moving over and paying for this product is, there is more there and there’s a ton of original content. So, I think, we think we are onto something with the mix. We’re not being guided that much by seeing that they’re watching this show or that show because when we actually look at the full numbers, the answer is that they — we’ve represented 50% of what people watch on TV. And that’s not available anywhere else. You go to the others for scripted series and scripted movies and the big takeaway for us is, people are willing to pay for that other 50% so far. And that could be a yellow brick road for us.

Gunnar Wiedenfels — Chief Financial Officer

And, Rich, I mean, on the share buyback side, remember, we have so much free cash flow coming in, right? So that generates a lot of firepower to fund our organic acquisitions. On the leverage side, as I said before, I’m feeling very good. It’s — not only I’m feeling very good, agencies are supportive as well. And the reality is, we have less than $4 billion coming due over the next five years after our prepayment here and that’s going on in March right now. So, I think we’re in a very good position. We are prioritizing the reinvestment into our own Company right now, but not in the form of buybacks but in the form of future growth.

Richard Greenfield — LightShed Partners — Analyst

And what about the Chip and Joanna?

Jean-Briac Perrette — President and Chief Executive Officer, Discovery International

David, Chip and Joanna?

David M. Zaslav — President and Chief Executive Officer

Oh. As I said, we’ve done a very innovative alignment together and you’re going to continue to see content on discovery+ exclusively. There may be a window, maybe we think linear is still valuable, they’ve produced a lot of good content. But you’ll be seeing a tremendous amount of content coming from them and coming from their creative factory that will be on discovery+ exclusively or exclusively for a period of time before it shows up somewhere else.

Jean-Briac Perrette — President and Chief Executive Officer, Discovery International

I think the only other thing I’d add Rich to your comment about the franchises is that, I think one of the successes we’ve found, you mentioned the top shows and how many — there is a lot of the top shows on discovery+ right now that are talent — existing talent or known talent or known franchise base. So you take a Magnolia’s Table or Bobby And Giada In Italy or even some of the offshoots of the 90 Day franchise. And I think that’s one of the things we see as a great success is ultimately being able to super-serve and give people even more. But that stuff is exclusive to discovery+. And so, while it could fit naturally in a second window or down the line back on a network because it’s very complementary to the existing franchises, they are exclusive to discovery+. So we do think in order to continue to expand the base also, that will be important to have a right balance of certainly some of the library and the depth of the library is incredibly important but also some of the exclusive content, even if it is based on some IP and franchises that come from the television networks.

David M. Zaslav — President and Chief Executive Officer

And outside the US, we’re finding that with our local language, local sports strategy that having a particularly compelling piece of local IP that’s available exclusively is driving. I mean, speak to that a little bit JB, we’re seeing real growth in Poland when we take a particular piece of compelling local IP and put it just on our discovery+ product.

Jean-Briac Perrette — President and Chief Executive Officer, Discovery International

Yeah. I mean, consistent with what we did think in our hypothesis and what we outlined is what we thought was sort of part of our secret sauce back in December of this combination of great local IP with the strength of the global library, we are seeing that bear fruit, which is a lot of the local IP that is whether be in Poland, the Nordics, the UK, Italy is what’s driving a significant amount of volume to the service and in terms of the acquisitions. And then coming into the service finding and discovering all this new and great content that people have never seen.

And I think the other thing — this is true about international, it’s also true about the US is, the reality is the 55,000 hours is such a large volume of content in the genres and passion areas that people love that without a digital algorithmic recommendation engine to service that stuff to people, it’s just never something that could have been perfectly exploited on linear television when you have a 24/7 channel and you are limited by capacity. And so — and by the way that re-platforming that we’re doing internationally is partly to take advantage of this more sophisticated recommendation engine that we have on discovery+ that currently doesn’t exist in discovery+ outside the US, but will once we finished the re-platform. So, that servicing of new content, even if it’s out of the library that feels new to so many viewers, we think is also a big opportunity to satisfy the consumers.

Richard Greenfield — LightShed Partners — Analyst

Very helpful. Thanks for the details.

Operator

Thank you. And our next question comes from Alexia Quadrani from J.P. Morgan. Your line is open.

Alexia Quadrani — J.P. Morgan — Analyst

Thank you. Just two quick questions, if I may. The first one is, are you — can we expect you guys can even get a higher proportion of advertising budgets given the incremental reach of Disney+? It just sounds like it’s a very attractive overall offering you can provide as Discovery, the Company to advertisers. I’m curious if it’s incremental positive there.

And then the second question is just really on local international production. Are you seeing that getting a bit harder or get a bit more expensive, now that discovery+ and other — a lot of other streaming services are trying to build up on local content?

David M. Zaslav — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Alexia. On the ad budgets, getting back to what — even before we get to discovery+, with our traditional business, what Steinlauf has been and his team has very effectively done and he and I have been on the road with all the big agencies at least three times over the — since the Scripps deal. He is dealing with the fact that the broadcasters are getting over $60 on CPM and we were getting a third of that. And — but we’re the number one player for women or the number two player for women. And we have the number one network with TLC. We have the number one show with 90 Day Fiance. And so, we’ve been pushing that rock uphill. And you see in our numbers, how we’ve been driving that CPM. But now we have a whole basket, where we have this win-win of come in with us for $40-plus CPM.

Why you’re going to get a repeat on a broadcast network when you could buy original content on us? And we get a huge premium on our CPM. We believe that this should ultimately flip that aside from sports, we should be getting a premium versus the broadcasters because we’re producing — we have length of view, we have an audience that’s engaged, we have endemics with food and home where advertisers want to be. And so, we think we have some real momentum there and we’re going to push on it. Because I think — we think from an equitable perspective and from a performance perspective, we should see much more of that money with much more CPM with better returns. And we think advertisers are starting to agree with us. And you should see that flowing through over a period of time.

And with GO and discovery+, we do have a lot more opportunity because with discovery+ bigger than we’ve thought, with GO continuing to perform we have more capacity. And we’re seeing that the attractiveness of that capacity in terms of the kind of premiums that we’re getting in CPM on discovery+ where there’s only a few ads is really terrific. So, it’s — and it’s incremental reach, real incremental reach for us, non-cable and so — which is quite helpful.

And on the local, leaning in, we do need original content. We have been doing it. JB has been producing a lot of it in every language. We have the factory that converts all of our content into every language, but we are doing more original because it’s helping us both on linear and direct-to-consumer.

But JB, talk about how we’ve kind of pivoted this year to lean in even harder.

Jean-Briac Perrette — President and Chief Executive Officer, Discovery International

Yeah. I think certainly in the core markets with the biggest scale, we’ll continue to sort of pivot on and focus on the right level of local content to drive the acquisitions. I think the other thing that’s exciting for us that we’ve never been able to take advantage of in a material way is, we have now and even in the last 90 days, examples of shows that originate out of one market that our top 10 or top five in some cases drivers in other international markets. And so, when we talk about local content, local content used to only mean monetization in one market. The reality is, now we’re starting to see more value and benefit being driven out of local content multi-market. So we did an Estonia documentary on the terrible and tragic capsizing the largest ferry disaster in the Nordics, that was originated out of our Nordics business. It’s now a top performer in the UK, a top performer in Italy. And so, local content investment doesn’t just mean local. It means local with value now to travel, which is something that we never had. So we’re excited about that opportunity as well.

Alexia Quadrani — J.P. Morgan — Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. And we’ll take our last question from Michael Morris from Guggenheim. Your line is open.

Michael Morris — Guggenheim Securities — Analyst

Hey.Thanks, guys. Good morning. I’ll try to sneak a couple in here, if I could. First, can we talk a little bit about the affiliate pace domestically and especially, the strength you’re talking about in the first quarter? The 5% that you saw in the fourth quarter, that seems to all be coming from the linear business and I’d appreciate if you could talk about what drove that acceleration? I know we talked about a little bit of the improvement in subscribers. But really, it seems like you would have had to have some kind of pricing — discrete pricing improvement there. So, can you just help with that and how much that impacts that underlying piece as we go into the new year and that growth you’re expecting?

And then just a couple on international digital, if I could. Of the 5 million subscribers, next-gen subscribers you discussed in the fourth quarter, how many of those were Dplay subs that sort of became discovery+ subs on the conversion?

And then the last thing, can you talk about India and your product in that market at all? Where you are on that? And if that contributed to your reported numbers this quarter? Thanks for taking the questions.

Gunnar Wiedenfels — Chief Financial Officer

Okay. Michael, let me start with the distribution guidance and you may have noted that I deliberately said distribution rather than affiliate because I do not want to create the perception that our traditional affiliate number is accelerating by 100% here. So, you are 100% right, we were up 5% in the fourth quarter and that was almost completely traditional business-driven. It’s a combination of pricing, slightly better subscriber trends, we’ve lost less than in prior quarters and also we’ve done very well on the side of the virtual MVPDs. So that’s the Q4 number, mostly linear.

For Q1, we’re talking about high-single-digit, potentially double-digit. Then a lot of that acceleration is, obviously, coming from the D2C trends given the subscriber success that we’ve seen so far, that is going to start very materially contributing to that number. That’s why I sort of talking about distribution, the way we lay it out in our financial statements as well rather than just affiliate.

On India, JB can take — [Speech Overlap], JB?

Jean-Briac Perrette — President and Chief Executive Officer, Discovery International

I think on the international — Michael, to your question on international, the vast majority of those subscribers are discovery+. So it’s a — and if you add in the Eurosport Player, which will convert, it’s really vast, vast majority of subscribers. So that’s number one.

Number two, on India. Look, it’s been a nice business, it’s growing for us nicely. But it remains in terms of, obviously, the logical questions of that being a lower ARPU market. It is a — it remains a small piece of the overall kind of single-digit level percentage of our international portfolio today. So it’s a nice — it’s growing nicely but it’s — it remains a smaller part of the overall international subscriber story.

Michael Morris — Guggenheim Securities — Analyst

And JB, just to be clear that, I’m trying to reconcile the 5 million subs and the part that you said the vast majority were discovery+. I guess, are you seeing the majority of the 5 million that you guys discussed in December converted to become discovery+ or more than half of those 5 million?

Jean-Briac Perrette — President and Chief Executive Officer, Discovery International

Correct, correct.

Michael Morris — Guggenheim Securities — Analyst

Okay. Okay. That’s great. Thank you very much for that.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

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