Disney gives free online downloads

Disney has teamed with Hong Kong broadcaster Television Broadcasts to offer four of its U.S. network TV shows online free of charge.

Deal between the Mouse House, English-language channel TVB Pearl and TVB’s online portal TVB.com is claimed to be a first in the Asian region for both companies.

Through TVB’s online CatchUp TV service, Hong Kong viewers will be offered the latest seasons of “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Brothers & Sisters” and “Dirty Sexy Money.” The pact will likely expand to include new seasons and other shows as they air on TVB Pearl.

Shows will become viewable 12 hours after the TV broadcast and be available for three to four weeks. They will carry conventional ad breaks and sponsorship, though Disney declined to elaborate on revenue-sharing terms of the deal.

In the U.S., ABC.com’s online viewership is growing fast. Data from Move Networks, ABC.com’s Internet TV services provider, showed that viewers watched 37 million full episodes of ABC shows in May, up 27% over April. “We understand that viewers today want complete flexibility and choice in how and when they watch their favorite shows,” said Rob Gilby, senior VP and managing director of Disney-ABC Intl. Television (Asia Pacific). “This deal is another step in our commitment to helping them stay connected anytime,” he added.

“The progressive policy of Disney-ABC Intl. Television in allowing a free ad-supported CatchUp TV service in Hong Kong will go a long way toward strengthening Hong Kong audience’s involvement with Disney programs,” said S.K. Cheong, TVB’s broadcasting general manager.

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