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Wellbeing goes sick

By | December 6, 2001

      The Wellbeing Network, a UK-based joint-venture health and beauty channel from Granada (40%) and Boots (60%), is expected to close having lost more than GBP30 million ($41 million). It went on air in March 2001, promising it would have an edge over rival services from outfits like Discovery. Despite spending a reported GBP10 million on marketing and promotion the channel has failed to gather viewers, attracting an average audience of barely 12,000. In July it let go some 80 jobs in an attempt to buy time. A spokesman said only that the channel was “under review” and that the decision was prompted by the severe slowdown in the television advertising market, and the slower than expected roll-out of broadband infrastructure across the UK.

      At launch CEO Paula Carter said the channel would benefit from having Boots (a major UK FMCG retailer) as a backer. ‘Boots the Chemist’ is present in every UK shopping centre, and its linked Web-site was claimed to be a major selling factor to advertisers/brand owners. Wellbeing said it expected some 75% of revenues to come from advertising and sponsorship, and the balance from e-commerce.

      The UK ‘health’ sector is still crowded with rival dedicated TV channels (Discovery Health, The Health Channel and a promised channel from Telewest linked to the UK’s state- funded national health service). But an idea of the thin revenues being earned on UK niche channels emerged from broadcaster Granada’s end of year statement last week. Granada’s ‘Granada Sky Broadcasting’ portfolio of channels (Granada Plus, Breeze and Men & Motors) accrued GBP10 million worth of ad-income (up 18%) in the year to Sept. 30, while ITV2 “doubled its revenues” to GBP3 million in the year.

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