Jan 15, 2008

Discovery Health 'OWN'ed by Oprah

Discovery Communications and Oprah Winfrey will create OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network to replace Discovery Health Channel, the principals announced today. The network will debut in 2009 to the roughly 70 million homes that currently get Discovery Health and will have the backing of Discovery and Winfrey's Harpo Productions will split ownership of the venture 50/50, but Winfrey will retain full editorial control. OWN will feature empowering programs designed to help viewers "live their best lives."

The programming shakeup comes as privately held Discovery Communications prepares for a public offering of its stock. Another change: Discovery's Animal Planet is "not looking to be a natural history channel," said GM Marjorie Kaplan. "We’re looking to be an entertainment destination." The channel will emphasize predation (animal deaths) as well as pets and immersive storytelling, the New York Times reported yesterday. Discovery Home, another of the 100-plus channels that Discovery operates around the world, will be relaunched as PlanetGreen,

Adobe backs youth programming for PBS

Adobe Systems Inc. has given the PBS Foundation $1 million to aid youth-oriented and youth-generated programming -- establishing the network's Adobe Youth Voices Venture Fund. The grant will also assist foundation operations.

Fit or Fat? Live or Die?

Those are the stakes outlined by Fatworld, ITVS's latest educational video game, which launched this week. The free game (download required) uses whimsical, bloating Mii-esque characters to illustrate the serious, complicated relationship "between nutrition and factors like budgets, the physical world, subsidies and regulations." Players choose their own starting weights and health issues and have to create menus, exercise (or not) and run a restaurant. Fatworld is the latest "serious game" from ITVS, which last spring asked webizens to imagine a world without oil in, um, World Without Oil.

Free tryouts for PBS Kids Play game site

PBS Kids Play!, the online learning games package for ages 3-6, opened in a beta version this week for free tryouts, USA Today reported. Current previewed the service, which will cost users $9.95 a month or $79 a year ($15 off if you order by Feb. 18). For best results, PBS directs PC users to download the 3MB client software, while Mac users are directed to a web version that also appears to work with PCs.