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ABC Ties Oscars Live Streaming to Pay-TV Deals, Goes Wide With ‘Backstage’ Digital Feed

Free ‘Oscars Backstage’ show to be distributed via Oscar.com, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo, Comcast Xfinity

ABC has lined up AOL, Comcast and Yahoo as partners for this year’s “Oscars Backstage” live red-carpet and behind-the-scenes webcast — but the live Internet stream of the show’s main telecast will again be limited to pay-TV subscribers in eight markets.

The Alphabet net will televise the 88th Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 28, starting at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The show will be streaming live on ABC.com and the Watch ABC app for verified pay-TV subscribers in ABC’s eight owned-station markets.

As it has the past two years, ABC is limiting the Oscars live-stream to cable and telco TV customers in those markets – New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Fresno, Calif., and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. That’s because the network wants to reinforce the deals it has with pay-TV distributors and gain leverage in negotiating higher retransmission fees.

Currently, ABC has agreements for live-streaming access via Watch ABC and ABC.com with AT&T U-verse, Charter, Comcast, Cox, Google Fiber, Midcontinent, Cablevision and Verizon FiOS in the eight markets. After the live broadcast, the show also will be available on Feb. 29 on-demand for seven days nationwide.

To promote the TV event, ABC is reprising “The Oscars Backstage” live coverage with a new batch of digital partners. The director’s cut from the best of the live backstage cameras will be available for free to anyone on ABC-operated Oscar.com, ABCNews.com, AOL, Comcast Xfinity (both online and on TV) and Yahoo. In 2015, ABC distributed “Oscars Backstage” on Facebook, in addition to Oscar.com and the network’s Watch ABC app and website.

“Oscars Backstage” lets fans choose from four channels that will pull live video from more than 20 cameras on the red carpet and backstage at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre. Hosts for “Backstage” are set to include actor-writer-producer Orlando Jones, actress and TV personality Diane Mizota, actor Matt Shively (ABC’s “The Real O’Neals”), entertainment reporter Ben Lyons, and “Good Morning America” and ESPN contributor Chris Connelly.

Pre-show channels on “Oscars Backstage” include Director’s Cut, Arrivals, Fashion and Red Carpet. During the show, the channels are Director’s Cut (including a “thank you” cam), Audience, Backstage and Press Rooms. Samsung Electronics returns as the presenting sponsor for the digital show.

Other Oscar-related programming on ABC will include the annual “Jimmy Kimmel Live: After the Oscars” special airing Feb. 28 after the late local news ET/CT and at 10 p.m. PT. On Feb. 29; “Live With Kelly and Michael” will continue its awards-season tradition with the fifth post-Oscars show starting at 9 a.m. ET, broadcast from the Dolby Theatre.

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