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Cable Technology Feature Article

May 13, 2013

ABC to Stream Local Broadcast Feeds via TV Everywhere App

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

ABC is planning to add local TV feeds into its TV Everywhere strategy with the Watch ABC app for iPhones and iPads. The first markets to roll out will be the New York City and Philadelphia metros, where users can tap into live streams of ABC’s local affiliate stations.

The broadcaster plans to unveil the feature on Tuesday during its upfront event for advertisers, The New York Times reported. It will only be available to authenticated cable and satellite subscribers. While it’s only available on Apple (News - Alert) devices for now, other types of smartphones and tablets will be supported in the coming months.

Six other cities are planned to go live sometime this summer, and will launch in Hearst Media’s 13 markets, including Boston and Pittsburgh, in the coming months. The company said it’s in talks with others that own its more than 200 affiliates as well.

The rollout is faster than the company originally planned—it meant to go live with local broadcast integration in 2014.

“We keep a very close eye on consumer demand,” Anne Sweeney, the president of the Disney (News - Alert)-ABC Television Group told the Times. “We watch how people are behaving with their devices, and we really felt that we needed to move faster.”

ABC’s owner already launched TV Everywhere apps for other properties, with the Watch Disney and Watch ESPN (News - Alert) apps. But the ABC deal is a first for a national broadcaster. Eventually, it said, ABC will withhold current TV episodes from the free versions of Hulu (News - Alert) and ABC.com, moving that content behind a pay wall, even though local TV feeds are free-to-air for anyone with a traditional TV antenna.

Behind the scenes ABC will have certainly needed to structure elaborate retransmission fees/digital distribution rights agreements with the local affiliates themselves. Primarily, though, it’s a move to capture more ad revenue as broadcast advertising has weakened. The mobile live stream will have dynamically inserted ads that better target users, rather than wide-net broadcast advertising.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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