Looking Fit After Year One


After Discovery Health’s merger withFit
TV, the new network, Discovery Fit & Health, seems to be running
faster in the ratings race heading into its first anniversary.

The health and lifestyle network, which lost its channel allocation
to OWN on New Year’s Day 2011, found new life when
it was merged with exercise and workout channel Fit TV last
February. The network posted double-digit primetime growth
at the end of 2011 compared to its launch date among its core
adult 18-49 and female 25-54 demo with content reality/documentary
like Secretly Pregnant
and Bizarre
that both entertain
and inform

“This channel
is about people
that, like our audience,
face those
moments that
change your life
— the moments that define you by how you respond to them,”
Rita Mullin, senior vice president of content strategy for Discovery
Fit & Health, said. “It’s a very emotional level that I think
this channel works on; a level of engagement that worked so
well on health and I think is now working here.”

While Discovery Fit & Health’s average primetime viewership
of 104,000 in 2011 is less than half of what Discovery
Health averaged before its changeover to OWN (252,000), the
network is beginning to develop original content that it hopes
will lure back former Discovery Health viewers, as well as draw
in a new and younger audience. Shows like Secretly Pregnant,
which follow the lives of women trying to hide their pregnancies,
and My Naked Secret, which chronicles people trying to
come to grips with their physical appearance, have also helped
the network reduce its median age to 44.9 in fourth quarter
from 50.5 during first quarter 2011.

“A big part of that drop has been due to our edgy pregnancy
shows that draw a strong 18-34 audience, which we hope to
hold onto,” Mullin said. “It shows that when you have new programming
people are finding it, so we’re excited.”

The network will look to build on its primetime gains with
the launch of several new health-themed series over the next
few months. The network earlier this month launched a new
season of the former TLC reality series Untold Stories of the ER.
In February, the network will launch Curious and Unusual
, which chronicles ways people have died accidentally.

The network is also developing several new series in the
mental-health space, according to Mullin.

“We approach the subject of health, whether its babies being
born or stages of life, in the broadest sense,” she said. “There
aren’t a lot of shows that people watch that they feel like they
can climb right into the TV set because that person is living a
life that’s so close to their own.”

As for its two-hour daytime fitness block, Mullin said the
network is not planning to add any new original programming
to the current lineup of Gilad-produced library shows, nor does
the network have any plans to introduce any fitness-themed
programming into primetime.