Interactivation Buys Networks In Hospital Rooms

The VOD programmer Interactivation has branched out into hospital TV networks, acquiring The Patient Channel and The Newborn Channel from NBC Universal's iVillage.

Terms weren't disclosed. The networks are currently in more than 2,700 hospitals (combined) across the country, with a targeted audience, people in patient rooms and waiting areas.
The Newborn Channel, for example, which has been in existence since 1992 and is in 1,000-plus hospitals nationwide, claims to reach 65% of new births in the U.S. with babycare and postpartum programming.

The channels are profitable, with a mix of hospital license fee and advertising revenue, Interactivation president Matthew Davidge said.
They also were considered orphaned businesses within NBCU, he said, and thus were the kind of media assets he and partner Joe Covey target. They bought video-on-demand programmers Mag Rack in 2008 (from Cablevision's Rainbow Media)  and Concert TV in 2009.
"When you're in a hospital bed and you're watching television you're in a very receptive state," Davidge said. "And these are highly informational, quality educational content [programs], and it's the right way to reach the patient at that time."
Some states require hospitals to inform patients about aspects of parenting, for example. So the nurses will recommend certain programs for patients to watch -- a strong endorsement.
"The idea of reaching someone when they have this heightened awareness of their health is very compelling - not only for the content but for the advertisers with their messages," Covey said.

Out-of-home TV viewing got a boost this week with a Nielsen study, reported on in Monday's New York Times, that found that so-called "fourth screen" viewing can accumulate to as many exposures of an advertiser's message as running a commercial during a top 20 show in primetime. The Nielsen study tracked 10 screen networks, including Screenvision in movie theatres and Gas Station TV.

iVillage's EVP Jodi Kahn said in a release about the sale: "While iVillage is still very committed to the health category, our focus is to grow our core online and mobile women's audience. Therefore, we determined that The Patient Channel and The Newborn Channel would be better aligned with Interactivation, which is committed to building businesses with non-traditional TV distribution models."

Interactivation's new acquisitions are mature businesses: The Patient Channel, the younger sibling, was founded in 2002 and is in 1,600-plus hospitals, according to its Web page. It offers condition-specific and preventative health programming. The Patient Channel says it reaches 15 million patients annually in 200 DMAs.

The Newborn Channel recently began enabling new parents, using a password supplied by the hospital, to access channel programming after they go home. Davidge said Interactivation wants to broaden the channels' programming into multiple platforms.

The programming is distributed via satellite: Interactivation also acquired an earth station in Wisconsin and transponder capacity.

Kent Gibbons

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.