In a somewhat surprising announcement last week, we heard that dLifeTV, the nation's only TV program devoted to diabetes, was going off the air. Instead of running on CNBC each Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, it will henceforth be web-based, posted each Sunday at www.dlifetv.com during the same time slot.
Online since 2005, dLife is one of the "premiere platforms to inform, inspire and connect with millions of diabetes patients, consumers and caregivers." The half-hour dLifeTV show has brought us visible D-faces like former Miss America / PWD (person with diabetes) Nicole Johnson, actor-comedian Jim Turner and award-winning journalist Benno Schmidt III.
So far, they've had complaints on the dLife main website and on their Facebook page, especially from older viewers who are unsure how to watch the show from a computer rather than on TV.
Jim Turner, the show's "fun guy," will now be the host, airing one of his "goofy diabetes segments" each week -- in an attempt to make the show "a bit edgier," Jim tells us.
"The good thing about it (being on the web) is you can now watch just the segments you choose, if you like, rather than having to sit through the whole show. Viewers have more control over what they watch," Jim says. "This is still in the experimental stage. Please check it out and tell us (me, especially) what you think."
We'd love to, but the dLifetv.com page is not exactly social media. There's nothing interactive about the site, and if viewers want to leave a comment, they're directed to an email address to send comments to the company in private. There's no open discussion whatsoever. Huh?!
In fact, there've been a number of significant changes recently at this D-community network, starting with a new CEO named in July: Sean Foster, who was formerly CEO of Avon Products U.S. (dLife founder Howard Steinberg stepped down as CEO in February.)
And in its continual efforts to expand its services to professionals, dLife launched its Healthcare Solutions Group to work closely with health plans, providers, pharmaceutical and device manufacturers "to provide engagement, behavior change, and self- management programs for PWDs."
We reached out to dLife's marketing director Mary Barbato to find out what led to the CNBC departure, what the host lineup would be (promotional photos on the site feature Dr. Nat Strand and Benno Schmidt, alongside Jim), and what the future of this diabetes show might look like.
We were curious to know if CNBC actually dropped dLife -- which seems unlikely/disappointing, given how widespread the diabetes audience ought to be in this country! We also wondered whether this change would impact the viewing of dLife shows in waiting rooms across the country, via Context Media which offers looped-broadcasts in 600+ physicians' offices (including Mike's endo's office in Indy playing dLife on two different screens in the waiting room!).
Unfortunately, all we could get in response from dLife Corporate led to more questions than answers. In what seems like a "canned" statement, Barbato emailed us the following:
"dLife is continually looking for new ways to reach people with diabetes, and online television is one of those areas where we've seen growth in viewership. We want to be the diabetes resource available to patients everywhere and anywhere they are seeking it, and online is just one way dLife is achieving that goal... At the same time, dLife will be exploring several new show formats to be run on broadcast television, all focused on diabetes education through entertainment."
No details were provided on the potential new formats, but the email did conclude by stating: "dLife will continue to provide video assets to our in-patient waiting room/in-hospital room network partners from our deep library of TV shows as well as new content currently in production. We are committed to continuing to reach diabetic consumers at point of care as well."
For Dr. Nat Strand's part, she says dLife is just "changing things up a little bit" and that the good thing about online broadcasting is that it's "easier to access — you're not tied in to a certain channel, at a certain time, on a certain day."
But she seemed surprised that her face shows up so prominently on the dLifeTV web site, since she is not a host -- but rather a contributor whose contract with dLife has already expired. "I'm not currently with them in any capacity," she told us. Her series of dLife health video snippets still airs, however.
She remains a dLife supporter as her life gets busier and busier: full-time position at USC Keck Medical School, traveling around the country appearing and speaking at diabetes events ("I try to say yes to everything diabetes-related"), and plans to get married this coming July! (congrats!!)
Nat's also working on a new book for women with diabetes she'll co-author with the founder of DiabetesSisters.org Brandy Barnes. It will be a "personal and medically accurate account of everything about life with diabetes. Not dry and clinical!" Plans are for release in Spring 2014, and the ADA is publishing it. Cool!
Meanwhile, on the dLife front, other anonymous sources tell us the company has been losing money for some time now -- which really is a bummer, because as the world's only "multimedia network integrated consumer/patient education platform for the diabetes community" you'd think they'd be fighting off investors with sticks.