Kara Swisher

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Fitbie: MSN and Rodale Launch Health and Fitness Site

MSN is launching a new health and fitness site called Fitbie today, in partnership with Rodale.

It’s yet another move into niche content sites by the Microsoft portal, similar to those being made by AOL, Yahoo and Demand Media in an effort to dominate key consumer categories.

In a press release, Microsoft said Fitbie was “similar to lifestyle sites Glo.com and Wonderwall.com,” which it created with Hollywood’s BermanBraun.

Fitbie will be powered by MSN, which will sell advertising for it. Rodale is providing both original content and also material from its magazines, such as Men’s Health.

“We think we can really bring our content to a much larger audience with this partnership,” said Steve Madden, VP of Creative Services & Digital Product Development at the New York-based publisher, in an interview yesterday.

Added MSN’s Scott Moore: “The premise is to bring best of breed content about fitness and content and our distribution together.”

Here is the official press release:

Rodale Introduces Fitbie With MSN on the MSN Network

New Health Channel to Provide Free Trials for Expert Fitness, Nutrition and Weight Loss Advice Within One Comprehensive Web Destination

NEW YORK, NY, December 1, 2010–Rodale Inc., the authoritative source for health, fitness and wellness content around the world, proudly launches Fitbie [fitbie.msn.com] on the MSN network today. The latest property from Rodale’s stable of award-winning brands, Fitbie is a new health channel that will deliver original groundbreaking fitness, nutrition and weight loss content via an interactive, multimedia experience. Available on MSN.com, Fitbie is the latest addition to the MSN Lifestyle portfolio and will fuse information, inspiration and innovation in one unique web destination.

“Working with MSN to launch Fitbie is a perfect fit for Rodale,” said Steve Madden, Vice President, Creative Services & Digital Product Development. “Our mission is to improve personal health, and teaming up with a digital pioneer as respected as MSN to introduce this new property puts us squarely at the forefront of the digital health revolution.”

Said Scott Moore, Regional Partner Executive Producer for MSN at Microsoft Corp., “MSN takes great pride in relationships with leading brands like Rodale to deliver expert lifestyle content to our vast audience in compelling and engaging ways. Rodale is the authority in the health space, and we’re excited to expand our lifestyle offerings with this unique online experience.”

The Fitbie collaboration is the most recent one for MSN with Rodale, who has served as a trusted content provider for the site since 2003. As the new online health powerhouse, Fitbie capitalizes on the massive MSN audience reach and the category expertise of Rodale to provide both exclusive premium content and content from the company’s expert brands, including Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Prevention, Runner’s World and Bicycling, for customers and advertisers.

Fitbie provides advertisers with the opportunity to engage with the diet and fitness-conscious MSN audience, offering prominent ad units and deep, rich content. Advertisers will be able to directly target their specific audience in addition to leveraging the larger opportunities on MSN Health.

Similar to lifestyle sites Glo.com and Wonderwall.com, Fitbie will be powered by MSN and is accessible at fitbie.msn.com, as well as on the MSN home page and editorial programs across the MSN network. Access to Fitbie can also be found across Rodale magazines and online properties.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald