Discovery to Switch Fit and Health Channel to Discovery Life in January

discovery communications

It’s flipping time again at Discovery Communications. After transforming networks like Discovery Times into Investigation Discovery and Planet Green into Destination America, the company is set to announce Wednesday that it intends to transform Discovery Fit & Health into Discovery Life in hopes of attracting a broader audience.

Since late last year, the company has been considering how to spur growth at Fit & Health, which launched in 2011 out of network then known as FitTV. “The strategy here is to increase the appeal of a network like this,” said Henry Schleiff, the Discovery executive who oversees Life as well as American Heroes Channel, Destination America and Investigation Discovery. The company wants to secure better viewership and ad revenues while making the network more valuable to cabler and satellite operators, he said.

The network is expected to launch in January.

Executives believe a focus on life events – pregnancies, emotional moments of transition, relationships and unexpected turning points – will draw a wider crowd to the network’s offerings, said Jane Latman, who will serve as general manager of the network. “ A focus on ‘life’ vs. ‘health’ makes us more accessible, offering a compelling platform for great storytelling that chronicles the drama inherent in our everyday lives,” she said via email. “It removes a significant barrier and invites change.”

At present, Discovery Fit & Health reaches approximately 47 million homes. In contract, Schleiff said, Investigation Discovery has grown to reach about 85 million homes since the company reworked it in 2008. “We want to go from a modest success to an immense success,” he said.

The shift represents the latest of several across the cable-network landscape. A+E Networks recently transformed the old Bio network into lifestyle-focused FYI. Hallmark has unveiled plans to focus its Hallmark Movie Channel on mystery movies. And Discovery just a few months ago changed its Military Channel into the American Heroes Channel. With more traditional TV viewers sampling new digital means of consuming content, like video streaming, cable and broadcast networks find they must cast their nets wider to muster the growth advertisers and distributors say they want.

More than 10 new series and specials are in development for Discovery Life Channel, the company said. Three early efforts include “Families on the Brink,” which follows a leading relationship expert as she works to bring families grappling with problems like an addiction or an eating disorder back together; “Ripped Kids,” a series that will profile kids who compete in strength contests and the parents who try to raise them; and “Tales From the Maternity Ward,” which will spotlight true stories from the busiest delivery rooms in America.

The network is likely to focus on original programming rather than acquired, Schleiff said, though he did not rule out seeking programs from sources outside Discovery.

“We know there is a void in the TV landscape for revealing and powerful storytelling that explores moments of conflict, passions, family relationships, adversity, tragedy, and healing of life itself. These are stories of people just like you and me – relatable, moving stories of people who find themselves in extraordinary situations,” said Latman. “It’s about life’s unplanned moments – who ‘plans’ to end up in the ER? To have a child with autism? to get a divorce? Or to struggle with addiction? We don’t plan these things and yet, we all find we have to face the unexpected throughout our lives.”

Marketing behind the launch of the network is expected to ramp up in the fourth quarter.

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  1. Ingrid Alsky says:

    “Untold Stories of the ER” on Discovery Life : The photography is terrible. The camera stays less than a second on one subject, and sways back and forth and back again, like a wagging dog-tail. It makes the viewer dizzy, and makes him/her leave this channel altogether. Hope you can do something about that. Thank you.

  2. Marilyn says:

    I wish Discovery had left Fit TV alone and not replaced it with all that Discovery Health mess back in 2011. It was a great network then and they wrecked it. I’d paid for extra tiers of cable just to have Fit TV, but I sure wasn’t going to do that for a couple hours of exercise shows between 3 and 6 am and then rotting flesh for the rest of the day. What void? Has he watched OWN lately?

  3. Mary says:

    Please include Dr. G medical examiner on this new lineup. Fabulous show been waiting years for a station to finally offer it on WOW

  4. Brenda says:

    I MISS fitness shows. They were what got me watching your channel in the first place. Gilad was awesome to get up and work out with. I miss his workouts! Really disappointed. :( After looking through the other shows offered on this channel I have no interest in watching this any longer.

  5. Susan Wright says:

    Hey, I’ve got an answer for you. Instead of changing the “name” and the “content” continuously in an effort to find an audience, how about changing it BACK to “fit and health” and actually have some fitness and health-related shows on? AND get the audience back that you lost! And I don’t mean show more weird pregnancy shows–I mean shows that can actually make a difference in one’s life if they’re motivated to try. Kind of like the old “fit and health” channel, remember?….

    The day Gilad fitness was taken off was the day I stopped watching this channel.

  6. Nancy Werner says:

    Love Dr. G and am so disappointed that adoption stories no longer air. Please reconsider. Nancy

  7. Will discovery life be available to dish customer’s?

  8. msjude says:

    i think your programming is awful. how many strange pregnacies can you see. bring back reruns of dr. g one of the most interesting programs that was on the tv. you have lost a lot of viewers because of your program changes. maybe you have acquired new ones but you have lost the same amount

  9. Glenn says:

    The reason that they lack the broader audience is that they insist on binge blocks of the same program. The hour of fitness programs have now been replaced by shows that they show repeatedly for 4 to 5 hours on that day. Binge blocks are fine on a weekend but if that is your everyday program strategy then you only attract people interested in that topic. This week the binge blocks are focused on pregnancy. If I am not interested in that topic, then I will not watch the channel. I may believe that it is their primary focus every week and never turn to the channel again. For my area, this channel is up in the 200’s, nowhere near the more popular channels, so I would not “surf” in this area. The Gilad programs commercials were basically the only way I was exposed to their other programs. Occasionally this attracted me to other shows on the channel, now there is no lure.

  10. Mary says:

    I’m still holding a grudge about what they did to Fit TV, and without warning and without any comment, explanation or apology to all those people who’d been devoted fans for many years. It was a disgraceful way to treat loyal customers. Shortly after that I cut back my cable subscription so I didn’t get Discovery Death & Dying or OWN. Recently, I discovered that I actually get the channel and it’s called Discovery Life. Yeah, there’s a void when it comes to cheesy reality shows. I’ll turn it on and watch it the minute donkeys fly.

  11. Sabra Mayfield says:

    Please tell my when you will be putting Gilad Total Body Sculpt back on from 6:00am – 7:00am.

  12. Lorrie says:

    I am very disappointed that you have taken Gilad off ! I think you should help promote active viewing and not just passive viewing. How many more reality shows to we need? None !!!! Now there are no exercise shows at all. Please rethink your agenda. Thank you

  13. Please leave the Gilad exercise programs on. Thank you.

  14. Sue says:

    Will Gilad exercise programs still be available? Please say Yes!

  15. Joy says:

    Please leave Gilad. The only exercise program on TV.

  16. Mo says:

    So basically no more “fit”. Which I guess is how it has been for quite awhile. There were barely any fitness shows airing.

    I really wish Exercise tv would make a comeback. It was nice to have some home fitness available.

  17. Andy Turri says:

    I love DR G medical examiner,Discovery Life please leave on your schedule.

  18. sharon says:

    so instead a health and fitness channel….they are going to turn it into another reality based cable channel…. what a waste

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