ABC launching live streaming TV app for iOS, Kindle Fire
Walt Disney Company-owned ABC is poised to begin streaming primetime and local programming to mobile subscribers in select U.S. markets, becoming the first major American broadcaster to simulcast live content to connected devices.
The New York Times reports the multi-platform Watch ABC effort, going live May 14, will give authenticated users full access to live content from their local ABC network, including primetime series, local news and syndicated content. Users must log in using their cable credentials for cable companies and video providers including Comcast, Cablevision, Cox, Charter and AT&T (NYSE:T) U-verse.
ABC said the mobile live stream will not run the same ads integrated into the original television broadcast, but will instead run digital ads similar to those found on its ABC.com site. "What you see here is the same live programming," ABC Vice President for Digital Media Albert Cheng told The New York Times, "but what we are doing during the commercial break is actually inserting new ads into the stream."
Watch ABC will initially roll out in markets that are home to ABC-owned affiliates, beginning with WABC in New York City and WPVI in Philadelphia. To offer the service in other markets, ABC must first sign contracts with its local affiliate partners: The network closed an agreement with Hearst Television on Sunday, and it said it will expand Watch ABC to 13 Hearst markets including Boston and Pittsburgh later this year. ABC plans to ink additional affiliates in time for the launch of its fall 2013 primetime season.
Users can access live programming via Watch ABC apps for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle Fire. The network said it will introduce a version of Watch ABC optimized for Samsung Galaxy devices later this summer: Asked by Mashable if a broader Android release is in the pipeline, ABC said the Kindle Fire and Galaxy portfolios are the only Android devices it is currently targeting.
Moving forward, ABC will withhold its most recent TV episodes from the free versions of Hulu--the online streaming video site co-owned by Disney, News Corp. and silent partner Comcast--as well as ABC.com, limiting viewership to paying cable and satellite subscribers. Hulu's owners have said they want to sell the service to pursue their own respective digital distribution strategies; last week, Bloomberg reported that Yahoo is considering a bid to acquire the Hulu platform.
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