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Fit TV to shape up with new prez

Channel to offer home shopping

NEW YORK — Fox/Liberty Networks has named Pyper Davis the president of fledgling cable web Fit TV charged with the task of relaunching it as an exercise and health lifestyle service targeted to women.

Fox/Liberty assumed management control of Fit TV recently when Fox parent News Corp. purchased the Family Channel, which had created and run the service.

The Fox/Liberty joint venture owns more than 90% of Fit TV. TV fitness personality Jake Steinfeld, who was a partner on Fit TV with the Family Channel, still owns a piece of the channel, said to be less than 10%.

Although the Family Channel did not charge a license fee for Fit TV — an exercise service with home shopping segments — it only managed to gain 10 million subscribers, and many of those only received the channel on a part-time basis.

No home shopping

Davis, who previously was senior VP, operations for Fox/Liberty Networks, said Fit TV will relaunch in January without the home shopping segments.

Steve Lenz was the last Fit TV president, but stepped down when the Family Channel was sold.

Davis said the new service will consist of shows devoted to exercise and aerobic workouts, weight training, yoga, travel and leisure, beauty tips, outdoor adventure races and women’s fitness competitions.

“We see a big hole out there for this niche,” said Davis. “There are dozens of magazines devoted to women’s fitness, but it’s a category where there’s a big gap on TV.” In addition to Fit TV, Lifetime and ESPN run exercise programs.

Davis said that an important new show on the channel will be “Fit TV’s Resort and Spa,” a studio-based magazine program featuring celebrity guests. The half-hour show will likely run three times a day.

A Fox/Liberty rep said the company is in negotiations with Steinfeld, but it is unclear if he will continue to appear on Fit TV.

Cable operators had mixed reactions to Fit TV’s plans to revamp the channel. “Targeting a fitness channel to women makes sense because there is a shortage of female-oriented programming in general, especially in sports programming,” said Phil Laxar, VP of programming for MSO Jones Intercable. “But there is enough health programming on other channels already.”

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