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Channel 4 has struck a deal with with Disney-ABC International Television to distribute its shows online for free with advertising support, C21 says. Tonight’s episode of Ugly Betty followed by seasons of Desperate Housewives, Brothers and Sisters, Reaper and Dirty Sexy Money will be made available through the 4oD on-demand service, a P2P download application powered by the same Kontiki software as BBC iPlayer and Sky Anytime. The shows will be free to download within 30 days following TV transmission, after which they will be available for paid download along with the 4oD repertoire.
4oD has previously charged a £0.99 rental and £1.99 ownership fee for imported US shows along with those outside the 30-day catch-up window. ABC changed is online game plan in September when it decided to embrace off-site, ad-supported TV syndication, distributing shows to AOL (NYSE: TWX) for an ad revenue split. Information we heard yesterday suggests another UK TV company could adopt the same kind of model in the next couple of months.