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CBS to Launch DABL Digital Lifestyle Channel in September

CBS is moving into the lifestyle channel arena with the launch of DABL, a digital multicast network set to launch in September through its CBS Television Distribution unit.

CBS has acquired a raft of programming from the vaults of Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse to help fill out the channel devoted to what it described as “informative, project-based, feel-good content for viewers to indulge their passions for cooking, home renovation, design, DIY, pets and travel.” DABL is set to bow Sept. 9.

DABL will be advertising-supported and distributed as a digital multicast offering anchored by the CBS O&O group, which covers 38% of U.S. TV households. CBS is pitching the channel to station partners outside of its O&O footprint and has racked up clearances in more than 70% of the U.S. to date.

Steve LoCascio, chief operating officer and CFO of CBS Global Distribution Group, said the lifestyle programming genre was a natural for the company that has a vast archive of daytime talk, court and informational programming on its own.

The lifestyle/how-to playing field is crowded given all of the Discovery cablers aimed at those niches, among other outlets. ABC tried the Live Well channel focusing on health and wellness as a multicast offering through its O&Os and syndication from 2009 until early 2015. But CBS’ study of the market today found plenty of advertising opportunity. And CBS’ first-run distribution arm has the infrastructure to sell and maintain a channel offered in a syndication-like deal to station buyers on a market-by-market basis.

“We have for years been discussing launching a first-run lifestyle type show,” LoCascio told Variety. “It’s a sweet spot for our ad sales team. We realized that a digi-net in that space could focus on cooking, home improvement, pets — things that would allow our ad sales guys to drive all kinds of revenue behind this.”

For station partners outside of the CBS O&O group, DABL is offered as a revenue-sharing proposition with CBS or in some cases it collects a license fee and in some markets it is paying for distribution, LoCascio said. “It varies from (station) group to group based on market conditions,” he said.

CBS has been slow to develop the extra channels that its O&O stations have enjoyed since making the transition to all-digital broadcasting in 2009. CBS had partnered with Weigel Broadcasting on the Decades retro entertainment and history channel in 2014.

“We share our partners’ great enthusiasm for this new digital network, the superstar lineup of content providers and the anticipated strong appeal to our viewers and advertisers,” said CBS Television Stations president Peter Dunn. “We truly believe this is a recipe for success.”

Lifestyle and culinary mavens Stewart and Lagasse also gave their thumbs up to the venture.

Stewart programs returning to air via DABL include “Martha Stewart Living,’ the weekly syndicated series from the 1990s that helped make her a household name, and “Martha,” the syndicated daily talk show that ran from 2005-2010 and was produced by Mark Burnett.

“When CBS approached Martha Stewart TV to provide shows for their new lifestyle network, we were happy to have a fresh TV platform on which to share our extensive library,” Stewart said. “We think everyone will benefit and learn from these beautiful shows.”

Lagasse observed: “Folks are always asking for where they can watch my shows. Now there is a place… DABL.”

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