by Todd Spangler, variety.com
August 25th 2013
Turner Broadcasting System is launching its first lifestyle brand — Upwave — initially online before bringing it to TV, aimed at entertaining and informing health-conscious Americans on nutrition and fitness topics.
The programmer sees opportunity to cater to a broad base of consumers looking to live healthier lifestyles, and rake in ad bucks from marketers eager to reach them. Molly Battin (pictured above), Turner senior VP and GM of Upwave, said the brand will lead with entertainment to attract auds while also delivering practical info on improving their quality of life.
“We’re almost a Trojan horse for health and wellness,” she said. “The television side can help flesh out the entertainment aspect of Upwave.”
There’s a hefty portion of the population interested in eating better and exercising more, Battin said. For example, about 69% of U.S. adults are obese or overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Upwave is aiming primarily at the 36% of consumers who are either already active in health and wellness or are “health strivers” looking to improve their habits, as well as another 17% who are “health hesitators” and need encouragement.
Upwave initially comprises a website with articles and short-form video; a YouTube channel; and social media channels. In December, Turner plans to debut a two-hour Upwave programming block on HLN, the sister news channel to CNN, to air Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m. So far, Upwave has about 190 videos, with two hours of free fitness videos and an hour of recipes.
The launch marks Turner’s first “digital first” brand, said Battin, a 13-year veteran of the company. “Leading with digital is the right place to start, to establish a brand and create a voice and group of expert talent to educate and bring consumers in,” she said.
Upwave, based out of Turner’s Atlanta headquarters, has about 30 full-time staffers, including sales, editorial and marketing.
Content on Upwave’s YouTube channel, which launched in early August, includes fitness and recipe videos as well as eps of original series such as “Why Do Men Have Nipples?,” based on the book by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg.
Turner opted to distribute videos on YouTube because “it’s where consumers are today, and two of the biggest topics and areas on YouTube today are recipes and workouts,” Battin noted.
Programming for the HLN block is still in development, with talent and hosts yet to be determined, Battin said. She declined to identify any advertising partners Turner has signed for the Upwave launch.
Upwave, which carries the tagline “Live Life on the Up,” is organized around five subject areas: eat (including nutrition and diet); move (fitness and weight loss); relax (stress reduction and life balance); thrive (advice on happiness and longevity); and connect (focusing on relationships and community). Future website features are skedded to include tools, quizzes and Q&As with industry experts.
Upwave has already seeded a social presence with accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.