ABC to close Live Well Network

138Turns out Live Well Network wasn’t living well after all.

ABC announced Monday it was shuttering its food, fashion, and travel diginet after nearly six years on the air. ABC carried Live Well on its .2 channel in 720p on its owned-stations, one of the rare digital subchannels to be presented in HD. In a statement, ABC Owned Television President Rebecca Campbell said: “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,” according to Campbell. 

Live Well was the brainchild of then-WLS-TV GM Emily Barr, who created the channel in Chicago, and was later named president of Live Well. During her tenure, Live Well’s station count grew. But the network’s momentum stalled when Barr left ABC to run Graham Holdings’ (formerly Post-Newsweek) station group two years ago.

Live Well’s clearance rate stood at 64 percent – short of the 70 percent needed to attract reliable national advertising. “The economics didn’t work”, said Bill Carroll of Katz Media to The Hollywood Reporter. 

Aside from Rick Bayless’ Mexico: One Plate At A Time and the CBC’s Steven and Chris daytime show from Canada, Live Well carried original programming, produced by the ABC O&Os, including Let’s Dish, which was shot at WLS. Despite the shows being original, the quality of the programming was another matter (My Family Recipe Rocks?)

It is not known what would replace Live Well Network once it closes. Even though it is scheduled to close in mid-January, non ABC O&O stations who carried it may choose to drop Live Well early for another digital subchannel.

Networks likely to benefit include the three retro TV networks Antenna TV, Cozi, MeTV and movie channels This, Movies!, and GetTV and African-American targeted Bounce.

Meanwhile, ABC-owned stations are expected to replace Live Well with “local content” as Campbell said, though she declined to elaborate on exactly what it would be.

Live Well becomes the latest diginet to go belly up in recent years, and now joins a list which includes The Tube, Universal Sports (which moved to satellite), and NBC’s Non-Stop Channel as subchannel ventures who failed.

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