Discovery Life’s RX: Medical Dramas and Sex

Related: In Cable, Data Will Likely Make A Difference

In its first upfront, Discovery Life Channel will find out if Sex in Public is what the doctor ordered.

The former Discovery Fit & Health network relaunched on Jan. 15 and ratings dropped in February. With that experience under its belt, Discovery Life’s upfront slate for 2015-16 is a mix of real-life medical series and provocative titles designed to bring attention to the network, which in February ranked 92 in total viewers among 106 networks Nielsen tracks.

This year, programmers including Discovery Communications and AMC Networks are skipping big upfront events. But networks are doing presentations for the press, including Discovery, NBCUniversal’s Bravo, E! and Esquire, and Viacom’s CMT this week.

“When you start a new brand it’s a bit of trial and error,” says Jane Latman, Discovery Life GM. Shows including The Mistress and 50 Ways to Kill Your Mother were dropped in favor of medical-oriented dramas, epitomized by Untold Stories of the ER, which was renewed for a 10th season.

New medical shows include Shock Trauma, about Baltimore’s outstanding trauma center; Vegas 911, highlighting America’s most unique emergency room; and The Day I Almost Died, featuring true stories of people surviving nearfatal accidents.

On the risky and risqué side are New Girlson the Block, profiling a group of transgender women in Kansas City; Sex in Public, a hidden-camera series offering relationship advice; and a special, How to Make Love to Your Wife.

The channel will also continue its “Sextember” event. “In our testing, we found there’s a huge interest in sexual advice,” Latman says.

To get noticed, the network is planning to replace its “Love Every Step” slogan with something “more medical, more urgent and more high-stakes,” Latman says.

“Most of my team and myself started Investigation Discovery and there’s just a lot of similarities in what ID is for true crime, we are for real-life medicine,” says Latman, who is also senior VP for development for ID. “One of the most important things we learned is, listen to the audience, be true to the audience and the numbers will come.”

Here is a list of the programming Discovery Life Channel has in the works for the 2015-16 season, as described by the company.


Sex In Public

In a provocative mix between What Would You Do and Taxicab Confessions, host Jill Dictrow, who has a master's in psychology with a specialty in sex and intimacy, goes undercover in the most unsuspecting places in an attempt to get real people to open up about the good, the bad and the ugly in their private lives. Sex In Public is a new series that is more than just talking dirty; this is about helping people who are too shy, nervous, busy or scared to actually go into a therapist’s office, ultimately helping unassuming pedestrians with some much-needed sex and relationship help.

In An Instant

Freak accidents, the wrath of Mother Nature or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time can create life-changing events at a moment’s notice. In An Instant captures first-person accounts as folks relive their harrowing tales of survival, from bridges collapsing during rush-hour traffic to near-death animal attacks to planes going down in remote Alaska.

The Day I Almost Died

Some events occur without warning, but what if it was your own doing that put your into a deadly situation? The Day I Almost Died combines astounding first-person accounts with stunning dramatic recreations and real-life footage to reveal that anyone, at any time, can fall victim to a fatal self-inflicted injury. From falling off a boat only to be sucked under the motor, to shooting a nail gun through your heart, to a mechanic who had a big rig collapse on his chest, each episode features three harrowing stories of people who almost accidentally killed themselves.

Vegas 911

This compelling, dramatic series recounts untold stories from the case files of one of America’s busiest emergency rooms—University Medical Centre (UMC) in Las Vegas. From the 911 call to the first responders to ER personnel and the victims themselves, this series tells a 360-degree perspective of all walks of life in this unique ER. You’ll get a bit of everything—mystery illnesses, infections and poisonings, major traumas and bizarre only-in-Vegas events caused by bites, sex acts or gambling. The stories profiled are as diverse and distinctive as Vegas itself. In UMC’s ER, they have a saying: “What goes on in Vegas, ends up here.”

Faking It

Munchausen syndrome is a disorder that compels individuals to fake an illness, inflict harm on their own body or make themselves sick all in the pursuit of attention from doctors, family and friends. Faking It is an intervention show presented by loved ones that follows people who are faking a serious illness and choosing to live a life of perceived suffering. These people risk their well-being, take on unnecessary debt and undergo needless treatment and surgeries—doing anything to satisfy their desire for medical or personal attention. With the guidance of an expert, they are confronted with an unexpected, life-saving intervention.

Shock Trauma

Shock Trauma is an unscripted docudrama telling the parallel stories of the doctors, nurses and patients at the world-renowned R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, MD. With a 97% survival rate and treatment for more than 8,000 patients annually—compared to the typical 3,000 per year—it is the best trauma center in the country. Only the most critically injured patients facing death in Maryland are transported here, and even the White House has a direct line to them if services are needed. Whether it’s a bridge collapse, gang shooting or massive, overturned tractor-trailer accident, the Shock Trauma unit is always ready and in position to save lives.


How To Make Love To Your Wife

Here is a light-hearted if brutally honest and self-deprecating examination of one suburban dad’s ineptitude in bed and his hilarious—and sometimes humiliating—attempts to turn himself into a world-class lover and finally please his wife.

The Meeting

With unprecedented access into an addiction recovery meeting, The Meeting follows four incredible, universal stories told by the people who have been through hell and back. Sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing, these stories are told firsthand by those who’ve lived through them, offering viewers a glimpse into the raw world of recovery.


Untold Stories of the ER

In one of the most successful franchises on television, Discovery Life Channel pulls back the curtain to expose more outrageous medical situations when Untold Stories of the ER returns for two new seasons in the coming year. In an environment where everything can change as quickly as the rip of a Band-Aid, prepare to witness the true, dramatic nature of medicine practiced under pressure—where nothing about the situation is routine and doctors have mere seconds to answer life-or-death questions. Each hour-long episode features emergency physicians revisiting the cases they weren’t exactly taught in med school and highlights how a doctor’s personal blend of expertise, coolness under fire and decision-making ability are challenged by unpredictable circumstances.

Hoarding: Buried Alive

Hoarding: Buried Alive takes an inside look at extreme hoarders and the psychology behind their compulsion to accumulate and store large quantities of nonessential things. Each episode tells the stories of hoarders struggling with behavior that has made daily existence unbearable for them and their loved ones. With the help of expert therapists and organizers, the hoarders will attempt to unlock the key to their obsessions in hope of reclaiming their lives.


In an annual exploration of sex in America, Discovery Life Channel encores provocative programming from its complete library of content for the Sextember programming stunt. Offering a sneak peek behind bedroom doors to explore unconventional relationships, bizarre practices and mysterious sexual health conditions, Discovery Life offers programming centered on unveiling common sexual dysfunctions, dishing out sex advice, revealing health issues and enlightening sex subcultures.

Psych Week

Each year, Discovery Life Channel opens a meaningful dialogue on mental health with its Psych Week event, running every May for Mental Health Awareness Month. With mental health programming airing nightly, Psych Week profiles individuals dealing with a spectrum of afflictions and addictions, from agoraphobia, sexsomnia, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, hoarding, OCD, multiple-personality disorder and more.

Nurses Week

In an annual celebration of nurses for National Nurses Week beginning on May 6, Discovery Life Channel is proud to bring viewers programming full of the most memorable moments featuring the brave and unflappable men and women in scrubs. Highlighting action-packed, life-altering, or just downright unforgettable nursing moments, the programming proves that nurses have indeed seen it all.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.