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ABC is pulling the plug on its Live Well Network, the digital multicast channel carried by its O&O stations as well as more than 50 other stations around the country.

ABC said the channel would go dark as of January; the network is waiting until then to give affiliates time to set replacement programming. ABC launched the channel, which focused on lifestyle and how-to programming, in April 2009 in an effort to make better use of its digital channel real estate.

ABC O&O group prexy Rebecca Campbell announced the plan to station partners on Monday. The ABC O&Os will shift to emphasizing locally oriented programming in each of the group’s eight markets.

Most of Live Well’s programming was produced out of its O&O stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Fresno, Calif., and Durham, N.C.

“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,” Campbell said in the memo.

The demise of Live Well underscores how hard it has been for the major O&O groups to capitalize in a major way on the additional programming real estate offered by digital multicast outlets. NBC has experimented with various options in recent years but none of the major groups has had much success.

Chicago-based indie Weigel Broadcasting has been active with its vintage TV nets Me TV and Movies!, offered as a syndication-style services to stations around the country. Tribune Broadcasting took the same route of highlighting vintage programs with its Antenna TV service. But it’s not clear whether any of these channels has become a significant business for the mothership station group.

News of Live Well shutdown was first reported by Broadcasting & Cable.

 

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