@ NCTA: Disney To Stream Full-Length Episodes Of Four Current Series On ABC.com; Free For Two Months


Ten advertisers will support Disney’s latest online initiative: a two-month trial streaming “Desperate Housewives,” and “Commander in Chief,” and the full season of “Alias.” The group includes AT&T, Cingular, Ford, P&G, Toyota, Unilever, Universal Pictures and Walt Disney Pictures. The announcement includes a nod to affiliates. Alex Wallau, president, operations and administration, ABC Television Network, from the release: “Our ultimate goal is to find an effective online model, one in which our affiliates can take part. To that end, we’ll be sharing information from this two-month test in our discussions going forward, and working on ways for them to participate in this new method of delivering ABC programming.”
It will be interesting to see whether people eschew the freedom of paid downloads for tethered streams of these shows. My guess is they’re two different crowds.
Update: WSJ (sub. req.): The revamped ABC.com debuts April 30 with a “theater” for watching the shows. Episodes will be available next day and archived for season viewing. The different ad model means ABC.com can offer fast-forward without being concerned about dissing advertisers — the three 1-minute commercials per episode will not be skippable. Consumer control — but only to a point.
— ABC is exploring ways to offer downloads, possibly ad-supported for $0.99 and ad-free for $1.99.
— Disney’s annointed as the “TV digital leader” with “unexpectedly aggressive in digital media” Bob Iger. (Don’t think our readers see it as unexpected although some of his choices have been surprising.)
— ABC.com will set up online meeting rooms for people to watch shows “together.”
— The suggestion is this could be a threat to cable VOD. When it’s easily available to large numbers of people for PC-connected viewing on a TV, that could be the case. Until then, I don’t see it as a major effort.
— A little confusing — the Journal refers to upcoming Soapnetic as the free web site of Soapnet but Soapnet.com is actually the companion web site; Soapnetic is a gated broadband channel available only on Verizon Online when it launches Apr. 17.

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