Starbucks to roll out wellness channel

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Indy Lifestyle Online

By November, Starbucks locations across the US are to offer their in-house coffee lovers a new experience with the Starbucks Digital Network (SDN) that includes six free premium content channels and one is devoted solely to wellness.

In July, Starbucks began offering free one-click Wi-Fi access, and the food blog Eater noted that Starbucks is "trying to compete with independent coffee shops and the likes of McDonald's and their McCafes but good luck finding a free table at Starbucks ever again!"

More details have surfaced surrounding the SDN highlighting that Starbucks customers will not only enjoy free Wi-Fi but also free premium content according to an August 12 announcement.

SDN is created in partnership with Yahoo! and will feature six channels: News, Entertainment, Wellness, Business & Careers, My Neighborhood and Starbucks.

The Wellness channel is fed with content from the health, fitness and wellness publisher Rodale and those that call Starbucks their office will soon be able to "access specialized premium content, including articles, recipes, videos and community engagement across several of Rodale's brands, including Rodale.com, [magazines] Men's Health, Women's Health, Runner's World, Bicycling, Prevention, Organic Gardening and Eat This, Not That!"

"We are thrilled to equip the active Starbucks community with tools for living a healthier lifestyle," said Maria Rodale, Chairman and CEO, Rodale, Inc.

The Wellness section will also include a "Run, Ride and Walk finder online application for local community relevance. The Run, Ride and Walk Finder online application will provide access to geo-targeted maps of more than 300,000 routes that highlight Starbucks stores along the way, and customers can upload their own trails that begin or end at their local Starbucks."

Stephen Gillett, CIO and general manager of Digital Ventures, a business unit of Starbucks, said "We're creating an online destination that will be true to, and expand upon, the Starbucks experience by delivering free, premium offerings that are selected specifically for our customers and localized for increased personal and community relevance."

It shouldn't be long before a SDN roll-out takes place in all of its 17,133 stores in 49 countries.

However it appears competition and not ingenuity pushed Starbucks to make the change to free Wi-Fi in the US, maybe McDonald's and the like will launch their own free premium content networks similar to SDN worldwide.

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