ABC Benches The Nine

ABC Saturday abruptly announced that The Nine, which has been struggling in the ratings, is going on hiatus immediately.

This week’s scheduled episode of the serialized drama will be replaced by a special edition of 20/20 at 10 p.m. Wednesday, the final day of November sweeps.

The decision to pull The Nine appears to have been made at the last minute, since a preview of this week’s slated episode had aired at the end of the last show.

In a one-line statement about the move from ABC News, the network said The Nine “will return later in the season.”

There was no word what will fill the slot beyond this Wednesday, when it likely would have disappeared anyway during the lower-viewed holiday season.

ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson is known to be a big supporter of the show and frustrated by its ratings problems, an indication that it may come back to television rather than being relegated to the Web.

The Nine joins another critically acclaimed but low-rated ABC drama, Six Degrees, on the bench until later in the season.

Neither of the series had received back-nine episode orders, unlike other low-rated serialized dramas this season at various networks, including ABC.