ABC News, local stations update apps

Disney-ABC Television Group launched a slew of apps Thursday across its cable, news and station divisions.

Comcast will become the first multichannel distributor to team with Disney on apps that allow access to cable channels Disney XD, Disney Junior and Disney Channel on Apple devices for cable subs, who must enter passwords substantiating their subscriptions.

While Disney already has apps out for ABC and ESPN, these kid-targeted apps will be the first in the industry to offer a simulcast of the networks’ linear feeds in addition to VOD offerings. Video will be available both in and out of the home.

The apps are an outgrowth of the affiliate deal Comcast and Disney struck in January that has been regarded as a template for the TV industry’s TV Everywhere initiative, which seeks to extend rights to content across digital platforms once reserved to TV. Analysts have estimated that deal to be worth $20 billion.

ESPN already has an authenticated app, WatchESPN, but it has no VOD component, and other distributors beyond Comcast carry it as well. There is no authenticated version of the ABC app, which is entirely VOD.

The Watch Disney XD, Watch Disney Junior and Watch Disney Channel apps will also be available online at WatchDisneyXD.com, WatchDisneyJunior.com and WatchDisneyChannel.com. Comcast’s Xfinity TV platform won’t have the linear feed at launch but will have the VOD component. Non-subs will be able to access a small free sampling of series from these nets.

The new Disney apps are also the first to stream entirely from the cloud, which could eventually enable ad insertion and targeting devices or user segments.

ABC News and the network’s eight owned-and-operated stations are relaunching their respective apps oriented around three distinct morning, afternoon and evening editions. Each is customized to capitalize on consumption habits drawn from joint research conducted by the divisions.

ABC News was the first app launched by a broadcast news division in July 2010. The station apps launched later that year.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more