ABC to Discontinue Live Well Network

ABC will discontinue its homegrown digi-net Live Well Network in mid-January. Focused on food, fashion and travel, Live Well was viewed as an example of what broadcasters could pull off in the multicast space, with original programming and partner stations both within the ABC owned group and outside of it. But the numbers were not working for ABC.

“Despite Live Well's tremendous accomplishments in distribution and original programming, we made a strategic decision that our priority must be local content, and we want to maximize our investment in our core local news brands in the digital space,” said Rebecca Campbell (pictured), president of ABC Owned Television Stations, and Peggy Allen, Live Well VP of programming and operations, in a letter to Live Well partners.

Spearheaded by former WLS Chicago president/general manager Emily Barr, the ABC-owned stations launched Live Well Network, initially known as Live Well HD, in the spring of 2009. In the fall of 2010, five Belo stations began airing it.

Live Well reaches nearly 64% of U.S. households. Live Well’s shows, which are primarily produced by the owned stations, include Sweet Retreats and Let’s Dish. Partner stations include Allbritton’s WJLA Washington, Gannett’s KING Seattle and Scripps-owned WCPO Cincinnati, along with ABC’s owned group.

ABC has not announced what will take Live Well’s place in the multicast space. ABC did not say how many positions will be eliminated, though the bulk of the Live Well workload comes at the ABC station level.

Some Live Well programs could get a look at the FYI cable channel, which takes the place of Bio, according to an insider. FYI is part of A+E Networks, a joint venture between Disney-ABC Television Group and Hearst Corp. It launches July 8.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the L.A. Times and New York magazine.