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Rodale takes YouTube plunge, launches fitness channel

Add one more to the list of consumer publishing brands leveraging YouTube’s aggressive video channel push. (Or is it the other way around?)

Earlier this week, service publishing company Rodale parterned with Los Angeles-area production shop BermanBraun to launch a new health- and fitness-oriented YouTube channnel, 3V.

Titled around the desirable attributes of “vigor,” “verve” and “vitality,” 3V is a production collaboration between Emmaus, Pennsylvania-based Rodale, publisher of such print lifestyle brands as Men’s Health, Runner’s World and Prevention, and BermanBraun, the multi-faceted production company founded by Hollywood TV heavyweights Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun.

The first series to be showcased on the channel is Woman v. Workout, a series of reality-lifestyle shorts featuring fitness model Lauren Berlingeri trying out various taxing and exotic exercise regimens.

Other short-form series include Fitness Fail, which will feature comedians delivering Talk Soup-like commentary on the flora and fauna of fitness-themed video dispersed all over the internet. YouCube, meanwhile, will offer Men’s Health-esque workout tips that desk jockeys can do in their cubicles.

Spotting each other on production

Rodale and BermanBraun are also at work on a separate healthy-eating-themed channel that will be launched later this year.

YouTube, which is dispersing an initial round of about $100 million in financial support to around 100 channel operators, and currently trying to sell TV’s traditional advertiser base on its collective video offering, has characteristically urged both companies not to reveal the monetary details of their arrangement.

In basic terms, however, the agreement is similar to virtually all of YouTube’s other “premium content” deals, with Rodale and BermanBraun splitting a majority share of advertising once YouTube recoups its start-up costs. YouTube, and parent company Google, will handle all the advertising sales. Ground-floor sponsors include cosmetics-maker Rimmel, as well as various packaged-goods companies

With YouTube (s GOOG) dividing $100 million about 100 times, production budgets will be typically lean, with Hollywood union acronyms like SAG-AFTRA, WGA, DGA and IATSE nowhere to be found.

Transitioning into video

Attempting to recover from an advertising recession that was particularly hard on consumer magazine brands, and fresh off a bout of management turmoil experienced last year, family-owned Rodale is making its own significant investment into diversifying its product offering into digital video.

Matt Bean, Rodale’s VP of digital product development, said his company currently has a video production staff numbering around 10 employees, who actively collaborate with BermanBraun’s West Coast headquarters, splitting video production tasks almost evenly.

“BermanBraun brings experience to the table that we simply don’t have,” Bean said. “We don’t have experience creating scripted episodic and reality programming, for example.”

On the other side, Jared Heinke, BermanBraun’s head of digital current operations, said Rodale’s “best of breed” knowledge of exercise and healthy-eating make it an essential partner to launch such a channel.

But what about YouTube? With two media companies enjoying complimentary skills sets, and splitting production tasks rather evenly, why not fund these channels together and not have to pay Google a share into perpetuity? BermanBraun, for example, has its own ad-sales team.

According to Heinke, his production company never thought about launching 3V any other way, given YouTube’s ability to sell its channels to Madison Avenue. “It’s exciting to have their muscle behind this content,” he said.

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