ABC Scores with Modern Family on the iPad

Once again, it pays to be first, but having free TV content probably didn’t hurt either: ABC (s DIS) announced today that it has seen more than 212,000 downloads of its iPad application ever since the Apple (s AAPL) tablet went on sale less than two weeks ago. The broadcaster also registered more than 680,000 video plays during that time, with the most popular video being the Modern Family episode that features an iPad. Perfect cross-promotion, I guess, given the fact that Steve Jobs is on Disney’s board.

The Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog was the first to note that ABC’s app may be installed on almost every other iPad out there. It’s a little bit of fuzzy math — Apple announced today that it sold more than 500,000 iPads during the first week, but it also counts deliveries to partners like Best Buy (s BBUY) as sales, even if those devices haven’t left the store yet. Either way, ABC’s app is definitely popular, part of which can probably be attributed to the fact that the broadcaster was the first one to offer TV shows through a dedicated app.

Competitor CBS (s CBS) decided instead to optimize its web site for the iPad by utilizing HTML5 video playback. The draw-back of that solution is that ad analytics for HTML5 video are still new ground, which is why CBS is actually serving up its shows commercial-free to iPad users. ABC, on the other hand, is serving up pre-rolls and interstitials through its iPad app, just as PC-based web surfers would get to see them on

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