iVillage Venture Taps Discovery, PBS

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Women's media provider iVillage Inc. is poised to launch a second in-hospital network later this month with its own programming, as well as library fare drawn from Discovery Health Network and PBS.

Delivered via satellite, The Wellness Channel is slated to bow July 15 and will be made available to the nation's 6,100 hospitals, iVillage Television vice president and general manager Brian Donlon said.

At press time, iVillage reported commitments from five hospitals, and Donlon expects carriage in upward of 200 facilities by year's end.

Wellness, which will provide information to build better physical and emotional health, will join iVillage's The Newborn Channel, a network aimed at new parents that reaches some 1,100 hospitals that deliver 68 percent of this nation's babies.

While Newborn is available to hospitals for free, iVillage will charge for Wellness, but has not yet developed its rate card, Donlon said. Both are ad-supported.

In addition to the networks, iVillage — headed by former Lifetime Television president Doug McCormick — runs such Web sites as iVillage.com and Women.com, as well as Lamaze Publishing, which produces ad-supported materials for expectant mothers.

Out of the gate, Wellness will showcase a six-hour programming loop that includes six original shows from iVillage Productions. The loop also includes the critically acclaimed PBS series Frontiers of Medicine
and Beating The Odds, a Discovery Health show.

Odds, hosted by network medical director Dr. Andrea Pennington, focuses on everyday people who've overcome tragedy and hardship to find new meaning in their lives.

iVillage Productions fare includes: One inNine: Living with Breast Cancer, hosted by WNBA star Rebecca Lobo and her mother; Sticks & Stones, in which former Today
medical correspondent and iVillage Health chairwoman Dr. Holly Atkinson offers advice and tips on bone health; and Good Eating, hosted by Maura Driscoll, formerly of USA Network and Lifetime.

Donlon, previously vice president and sports and new media at Lifetime, said that as part of the deal, Discovery Health can tap iVillage's programming.

"We've given them our library and are hopeful of gaining more exposure on Discovery Health. We also have programming on The Newborn Channel that makes sense for Discovery Health and [The Learning Channel], which does a lot of parental programming."

"The multifaceted deal gives us a chance to build our brand in a setting that is naturally conducive," said Discovery Health Channel general manager Bob Reid. "We also have the opportunity to look at Wellness and Newborn Channel programming that might be of interest to our viewing constituency."

But Reid said there are no current plans to bring iVillage fare to Discovery Health's air.

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