Talk: MED-utainment

  • by February 28, 2005
Health-related segments on TV usually last two-to-three minutes tops, and cover medical topics in the most general of terms. Viewers living with chronic ailments like diabetes, arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis can turn to medical Web sites for more information, but even they don't offer perspectives on what it's like to live with a chronic disease. But that's about to change, as "dLife," a TV talk show about living with diabetes debuts March 20 on CNBC.

The "dLife" series will feature celebrities and hosts living with diabetes, offer information on the latest treatments, advice on healthy lifestyles, and other tips. There are 20 episodes planned for this year.

The series is not only a new take on health-related TV programming, but represents a new way of attracting sponsorship dollars as well, according to Howard Steinberg, founder and CEO of LifeMed Marketing, "dLife's" backer.

"The way media has been organized and sold is basically by demographic, and that misses a significant opportunity to be relevant and efficient for markets and segments that are not easily aggregated," he says. Chronic disease populations represent one of the biggest, untapped media segments in terms of advertiser dollars, according to Steinberg. "We recognized that as an enormous gap in the marketplace. There needs to be health care programming on television that is more relevant to these populations," he says.

Steinberg notes that advertisers that want to reach people with chronic illnesses have had to buy media targeting adults over 50 just to get the 12 percent of the group that has diabetes.

Advertisers including Abbott Diabetes Care, Beiersdorf, Colgate, Novo Nordisk, and Roche Diagnostics have signed on as inaugural sponsors of the show. Apart from the TV series, "dLife" has also created an online presence and a direct mail newsletter targeting 2.5 million households. Radio spots on multiple radio networks broke March 1 featuring 60-second vignettes wrapped around advertisers' messages.

Steinberg says that depending on advertiser demand, LifeMed will develop programming on other chronic ailments such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, allergies, and asthma.

The show's medical and media advisory board includes Dr. Bob Arnot, author and NBC's former chief medical editor and a host of "dLife;" David Levy, president of Turner Sports; Tom Rogers, president, Trgt Media LLC; and Erik Sorenson, former president of MSNBC cable. Tobi Elkin

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