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Video-on-demand series brings attention to realities of diabetes

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — According to various surveys and articles on the topic, television networks love reality TV. After all, a reality TV show is cheaper — $100,000 to $500,000 per episode, according to some estimates — and simpler to produce than a show with a script, multiple sets and special effects. And to boot, it gets a lot of viewers. But regardless of their benefits to big media companies, reality TV shows also have a habit of influencing culture, which UnitedHealth Group and Comcast hope to use to their advantage.

(THE NEWS: UnitedHealthGroup, Comcast launch pilot to evaluate video-on-demand programming for Diabetes Prevention Program. For the full story, click here.)

Notice how people like Snooki and The Situation — stars of the MTV reality show "Jersey Shore" — once ordinary people from New Jersey, have become major celebrities who dazzle the entertainment industry and even influence people’s tastes in fashion. But does reality TV have the ability to influence public health as well?

Certainly, the late Pedro Zamora, a cast member on the third season of MTV’s long-running reality TV series "The Real World," helped bring a lot of public attention to the AIDS epidemic with his presence on the show as a gay man living with the disease and subsequent death from it. In a related vein, after cooking show host Paula Deen went public about her diagnosis with Type 2 diabetes, drug maker Novo Nordisk hired her as a spokeswoman, though this also had the unintended side effect of generating a backlash against Deen.

The effect of the UnitedHealth Group-Comcast alliance remains to be seen, but presenting viewers with real people might allow them to identify with cast members more than they would with, say, actors or cartoon characters.

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Walmart boosts quarterly dividend

BY DSN STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart said Thursday it is continuing its annual tradition of increasing shareholder payout by raising its dividend by 9%.

Walmart will pay a quarterly dividend of 39.75 cents on April 4 to shareholders of record on March 12. That works out to $1.59 per share for the year. The company has increased its dividend every year since its first declared dividend in March 1974.

According to Walmart president and CEO Mike Duke, the company’s U.S. business is back on track, and international results remain strong.

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Sam’s Club playing to win in health and wellness

BY Rob Eder

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — The highest circulation of any health magazine in America. That’s a major commitment when you think how hard consumer magazines have been hit in recent years.

(THE NEWS: Sam’s Club launches wellness magazine for members. For the full story, click here)

Yet, Sam’s will print more issues than any of the big consumer health-interest magazines. That shows how important it is to make a big statement that it is playing to win in health and wellness — an area of its business that it has targeted for major growth.

DSN will profile the Sam’s Club health-and-wellness leadership team in an exclusive April 2 issue. For more information, contact Wayne Bennett, publisher [email protected].

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