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An Rx for More Series

8/19/2005 8:00 PM Eastern

Looking to build on its July ratings growth, Discovery Health Channel will launch several new series in the fourth quarter.

In an effort to draw female viewers, Discovery Health will move its popular Dr. G, Medical Examiner from Thursdays to Mondays, beginning in October, as a counterprogramming play against male-targeted fare like ABC’s Monday Night Football, O’Neill said.

After the hour-long Dr. G, beginning in December, Skeleton Stories will trace a team of anthropologists as they unearth human remains to discover more about the body.

“With the success of Dr. G, we understand people’s fascination with our bodies and how we determine death and what our bodies tell us,” she said. “Skeleton Stories will replicate the strong storytelling that we established with Dr. G.”

Also new to Discovery Health’s schedule beginning in November is Accident Investigators, featuring the country’s leading “traffic-collision recontructionist” Rusty Haight.

The network will continue to move into the sex-and-relationships genre with the Sept. 27 debut of Love On the Rocks, which will examine the reality of loving and making relationships last. Discovery Health’s first late-night, sex-oriented series, Strictly Sex With Dr. Drew, is in negotiations for a return later this year, O’Neill said.

With the new series the network is hoping to improve on its record 0.4 household rating average in July, a 33% gain over the same period last year.

As for its franchise National Body Challenge, O’Neill said Discovery Health will expand the annual January 2006 event’s focus to include family health. The network has already recruited several new sponsors for Challenge, although O’Neill declined to identify them.

On the air, the network will run two-hour Challenge-related episodes on Jan. 15 and 16. She said the focus on family allows the network to target kids and teens and hopefully have some impact on the growing child obesity issue.

“Most doctors will tell you that kids begin to make their food decisions at 8, 9 and 10, so we think this is a terrific opportunity to focus on the issue from a family perspective,” she said.

O’Neill also said the service plans to take a more lighthearted look at health with two new series in first-quarter 2006. Early fringe shows Yummy Mummy and Dr. Know, which looks to debunk medical myths, could attract new and younger viewers.

“We do very well with dramatic and series and intense content, but we’re looking to expand into more humorous shows,” she said. “We’ll show a bit more of a sense of humor, but we’re not going to lose the sensitivity and drama that we’ve had on-air.”

September