ABC’s rolling experiment with TV Everywhere for live local broadcast feeds entered its next phase, as the Alphabet net expanded access to the Watch ABC service to four more markets — but is now restricting access to only subscribers of a handful of pay TV partners.
At this point, the biggest question marks are how many viewers ABC can actually get to tune in to local TV especially given the authentication requirement, and how effectively the broadcaster will be able to sell and measure ads through Watch ABC.
In May, Disney/ABC Television Group launched beta version of the app for Apple’s iPad and iPhone and Amazon Kindle tablets for its owned-and-operated stations in New York City (WABC-TV) and Philadelphia (WPVI-TV). Initially that was available for free to any users located in those markets.
But now the paywall has gone up, even as ABC has expanded to four more O&O’s in Los Angeles (KABC-TV), Chicago (WLS-TV), San Francisco (KGO-TV) and Raleigh-Durham (WTVD-TV).
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Currently Disney/ABC TV has agreements in place for its lineup of authenticated Watch products — which include WatchESPN and Watch Disney Channel — with six pay TV providers: Comcast, Cablevision Systems, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Midcontinent Communications and AT&T U-verse. Those six represent a little more than one-third of the U.S. pay TV landscape, with DirecTV, Dish Network and Time Warner Cable representing the biggest gaps.
Also Monday, Alphabet net released a version of the Watch ABC app on select Android tablets, including Samsung Galaxy devices. In addition, eligible viewers can also access live TV online at http://watchabc.go.com.
Watch ABC, in addition to live local broadcasts, provides on-demand access to full episodes of ABC daytime and primetime programming.
Prior to launch of fall broadcast season, ABC plans to roll out Watch ABC to the final two ABC-owned station markets — Houston (KTRK-TV) and Fresno (KFSN-TV).
Meanwhile, Hearst Television “in the coming months” also plans to launch the Watch ABC service in their 13 ABC station markets, which include Boston, Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Milwaukee. Alphabet net said it expects to ink deals with other station groups prior to the fall season.
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