The Hollywood Reporter explores why ABC announced it is shutting down its digital subchannel lifestyle network Live Well.
While VP and director of programming for Katz Media Bill Carroll said “The economics didn’t work,” he also said CBS may have had something to do with the decision which THR reports will lead to a small number of layoffs at ABC owned stations.
Carroll thinks the shut down may also have been influenced by a recent announcement from CBS that it is creating a new digital news network which will likely be carried in the digital space. “They may be reacting to what CBS is doing,” says Carroll, “and not want to be in the lifestyle arena and at a disadvantage when CBS is launching this new news channel.”
When the digitalization of TV came about, there was an expectation that there would be a lot of new and independent channels taking advantage of the space; but for the most part that has not been the case.
Carroll says the only one of the new channels that has had much success is Me TV, which was created by Weigel Broadcasting and distributed by MGM. It airs old TV sitcoms and dramas, and lots of old movies dating back to the 1930s.
An ABC spokesperson denied rumors Disney is preparing to sell some of its broadcast spectrum in the upcoming FCC spectrum auction; and Disney has refuted rumors in the past two years it might sell all of it’s owned TV stations.
Eric Sherman, CEO of Veria Living, another competitor in the digital space (although it is also on cable, satellite and Telcoms), called the shutdown of Living Well “disappointing” and said it harms viewers: “There surely is no shortage of options for those interested in adult-themed and salacious programming, yet once again the media world is turning its back on those who desire positive, wellness content…Our unwavering strategy is to continue to embrace and serve the health and wellness needs of the growing audience hungry for this content.”
Live Well was not just carried by ABC’s eight owned stations. Among independent stations groups that air the network in some or all of their markets are Belo, Gannett, Hubbard, Grey, SJL, Scripps, Citadel, Young and Media General. It also had carriage in a handful of markets as a stand-alone cable channel.