Health Network Relaunches as FitTV

Discovery Networks U.S. relaunched The Health Network as FitTV Monday, offering a rejiggered lineup that focuses on lifestyle, cardio and body conditioning and performance-sports programming.

"Over 50% of the schedule is at least a U.S. premiere [now]," said Carole Tomko, senior vice president and general manager of FitTV. "We have a number of food shows that only premiered internationally or only in Canada."

The relaunch had been set for Jan. 1, but Discovery went ahead with it a little early to coincide with the start of its first quarter, according to Tomko.

The network’s schedule has been revamped to focus strictly on fitness, Tomko said.

"The Health Network included programming on parenting or babies," she added. "We absolutely pulled everything off the air that wasn’t going to be about fitness. So now, FitTV is totally dedicated to any kind of programming about fitness or wellness. It’s much more informational. It’s instructional. It’s motivational."

Initially, the game plan was for FitTV to incorporate an hour-long programming wheel, with different segments within. But now, to kick off, the network is sticking with traditional programming scheduling, stripping most of its shows Monday-Friday, according to Tomko.

"Right now, the schedule is a very horizontal schedule," she said. "We want the viewers to have an opportunity to tune in and really become aware of [the fact that] Monday through Friday, ‘I can tune into my own personal trainer.’ So every half-hour, there will be a different offering of a different style of trainer, a different style of exercise. That works great with the beginning of the year, especially with all of the New Year’s resolutions."

Discovery is partnering with fitness impresario Jake Steinfield on FitTV, and the programmer is currently working with him to develop some new shows for the service.

Discovery acquired THN from News Corp.’s Fox Cable Networks Group for $255 million in cash and equity in September 2001.