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Lime Pulls Channel Plug

Lime Media will shut down one distribution platform but will dial into another.

The health and lifestyles outlet will shut down its 24-hour linear cable channel at the end of February to focus more on broadband, cable video on demand and other distribution, including a recently signed mobile phone deal with Verizon Wireless, CEO C.J. Kettler said.

The Steve Case-owned Lime TV, reformatted from Wisdom TV after its purchase two years ago, decided to shutter its 7 million-subscriber cable network after failing to gain significant distribution. EchoStar Communications's Dish Network and Comcast were the channel's only two major distributors.

“As we looked at the business model, clearly the costs associated with the 24/7 model was a factor,” Kettler said. “It's no secret that if you're in 7 million homes and you've got a sliver of a ratings point, you're not reaching many viewers.”

Instead, the network will turn to broadband to get its wellness and environment-friendly content to consumers. Lime last week launched a new broadband channel that features more than 20 hours of content. The site (www.lime.com/tv) will be organized by category such as Health, with nutrition series Living Well with Oz Garcia; Food, with nutrition-based cooking show Pure & Simple with Michel Nischan; Eco-Home, with Simply Green with Danny Seo; Planet, with Think Green, which explores environmental issues and ways to make a difference; and Balance, with health-and-wellness series Mind, Body & Soul.

Kettler expects the broadband player will increase lime.com's usage beyond its current average of 1.5 million unique viewers, although she would not reveal specific figures.

“The ability for us in terms of the Web [is] to reach so many more people in the short term,” she said. “Also, the advertising deals we have are being driven by the digital team.”

Indeed, Lime has already signed several new advertisers — including Toyota Motor Sales USA, Silk and Garnier — and it added Yahoo and startup Joost as distributors, on top of existing online outlets Google and AOL.

Lime took another step in extending its multiplatform reach last week with wireless phone company Verizon Wireless — the programmer's first mobile-video distribution deal. Lime will offer free clips from its existing content as part of Verizon Wireless' VCast subscription service.

The company however, will not completely cut its cable ties. Kettler said it will continue to offer operators a video-on-demand service and said she expects to announce several additional operator carriage deals in the next couple of weeks. The network already announced that Comcast Cable will test Lime's free VOD service later this year. Lime offers free-VOD content via Insight Communications, Mediacom Communications and some smaller cable firms.