ABC O&Os Relaunch Sites

ABC News gets good real estate on home page
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The ABC-owned station group relaunched its 10 station websites last week in an effort to make content easier for users to find. The previous iteration, which was unveiled almost two years ago, featured a prominent box in the middle of the home page featuring Flash video, text and slide shows. At the time, ABC executives said the template was designed to make the sites look more like television.

ABC Owned Station Group Executive V.P. of Digital Media Bill Burton said some users had trouble telling what to click on for video and what to click on for text. "There was some lingering confusion," he says. "We wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to access the content they want."

The new sites feature a smaller video player and a neater content layout, along with a "Programming Note" banner at the top touting a local story to be seen on air. Unlike the previous websites, the redesigned O&O sites feature an ABC News tab offering a batch of national headlines.

The sites also feature headlines from corporate sibling ESPN, which is in the process of launching local sports sites. The O&Os began working ESPN video content into their web mix in the summer of 2008.

While Burton concedes it's way too early to spot traffic trends on the revamped sites, he says they've thus far been immune to the dip that typically greets relaunched websites. "It appears to be a positive change," he says. "We're very optimistic."

Burton also said the O&Os' Live Well HD digital channel, which debuted last April, will expand its programming mix in January. Live Well currently features six half-hour weekly programs produced within the group; that expands to 12 shows in January, with the first non-ABC owned station taking part in the partnership.

"From a sales standpoint, it's been terrific," says Burton.

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