New Discovery Fit & Health looking for content

Discovery Fit & Health is launching on February 1, with a combination of FitTV and Discovery Health programming. Laura Michalchyshyn tells realscreen what she's looking for and how to pitch to her team at the Realscreen Summit.
January 19, 2011

As previously announced, Discovery is rebranding FitTV into Discovery Fit & Health on February 1, with a new on-air look and logo. The new network combines the best of FitTV and Discovery Health, the latter which was transitioned into the Oprah Winfrey Network on January 1.

Laura Michalchyshyn, president and GM of Discovery Fit & Health and Planet Green, tells realscreen that lot of work and focus was put into launching OWN, and that after the network launched, the Discovery team realized that many Discovery Health fans didn’t know where to turn for their favorite programming.

“Towards the end of last year we noticed that there was still some very strong viewer audience interest and loyal engaged viewers who were very curious and vocal about Health’s programming.”

“[OWN has] taken a couple of Discovery Health programs over, but there was always a lot of programming that was still remaining in the Discovery library. We realized that there is a real opportunity to take the best from what was Discovery Health and the best of what is Discovery Fit – we have a platform that is in approximately 50 million homes in the U.S. -  and we decided it would be a strategic opportunity to take that platform, which is primarily [about] workout, exercise and fitness, ‘super charge’ the two and bring them together.”

Discovery Fit & Health will be a female-skewing network, focusing on storytelling that chronicles the human experience, from the cradle to the grave.

“This network is about emotion, whether it’s amazing medical stories, forensic stories, emergency room trauma dramas or pregnancy programming. It’s also about life transitions and how we move from those cycles,” says Michalchyshyn.

The new network will air a Fit programming block, from 6 to 9 a.m., with exercise content like Dance & Be Fit and Namaste Yoga. The 9 to 12 content will focus on babies, parenting and family oriented programming, and from noon on, the content will be Discovery Health stunts and stacks, like Baby Week, which will now be called Baby Madness.  Fit & Health will be in need of new specials, new stunts and new series, as well.

Michalchyshyn says that the new few months will be very intensive for development, with the Discovery Fit & Health development and production execs taking on pitches at the Realscreen Summit.

Producers at the Summit should know what was working previously on Discovery Health and concentrate on engaging characters and storytelling, while also keeping in mind that Michalchyshyn is looking for stories about transformation and extreme life conditions.

Fit & Health is also interested in coproduction opportunities, as well as pre-licensing and acquiring programming that has never been seen in the U.S. before.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.