ABC’s broadband player will be stuffed with new and returning shows when it debuts for real Sept. 23 — and this time, the affiliates should be on board from the get go. The network and its affiliate association just announced an agreement that allows local stations to benefit directly from the player through local ad sales, branding opps and links. ABC initially launched the player without affiliate involvement, adding some stations the ballyhooed two-month spring trial after criticism.
— One aspect to keep in mind: based on the statement language, the board is endorsing the agreement and recommending it but it does not appear to have been voted on by the whole group.
Affiliates: The locals will be able to put the broadband player on their own sites, similar to the effort already underway by Fox.
— Stations can sell one local ad per episode and keep that revenue. ABC says this is the first time for “local ad insertion on a nationally operated broadband player.”
— Affiliates will promote the player on-air and online.
Broadband player: Lost and Desperate Housewives return to the player (Alias ended its run and mis-used Commander in Chief was canceled); the other existing show being added is Grey’s Anatomy. New shows are Six Degrees, Ugly Betty, The Nine, The Knights of Prosperity. Catch-up reels are being prepared to clue in new viewers of the returning shows.
— Some “subtle changes” have been made based on the spring test. Users will be able to move back and forth between chapters; ad skipping still not allowed.
— Up to three interactive national ads and one local insert per episode.
— 16×9 formatting.
Update: Maybe I’ll finally get to see the Grey’s Anatomy season finale … Apple and Disney continue their lovefest by giving away 1 million iTunes downloads of last season’s final episodes for Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives and Lost. The giveaway runs Sept. 14 through Oct. 4; visitors to ABC.com who click on “Million Hit Lowdown” will be taken to iTunes. to download one of the three shows. (Please tell me the GA finale is both hours and not just the last one.) At $1.99 an episode, that makes the promo worth about $2 million if all the downloads are given away.