Dedicated to expanding its network and channel brands across multiple platforms and connecting viewers with their favorite shows anytime and anywhere, Disney-ABC Television Group announced today that it will offer ad-supported, full-length episodes of four ABC primetime series online at www.abc.go.com as part of a two-month-long experiment. Current episodes of “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives,” and “Commander In Chief,” as well as the entire present season of “Alias,” will be available for streaming during May and June, marking the first time a broadcast network has made multiple series available for viewing online, free of charge to consumers.
“The evolution of ABC.com is just one piece of our comprehensive, digital media multiplatform business initiative,” said Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney-ABC Television Group. “This announcement highlights the momentum we’ve achieved both in launching new broadband services and working with strategic partners in the digital media space, to ensure that our high-quality, informative and entertaining content is available to consumers whenever and wherever they choose.”
ABC is also exploring ways to work with its local broadcast affiliates on these online offerings as they continue to evolve. “Our ultimate goal is to find an effective online model, one in which our affiliates can take part,” stated Alex Wallau, president, Operations and Administration, ABC Television Network. “To that end, we’ll be sharing information from this two-month test in our discussions going forward, and working on ways for them to participate in this new method of delivering ABC programming.”
“Our mission with this trial is to gather key learning about the technology and the consumers who utilize it in order for ABC.com to become the leading broadband digital entertainment experience, packed with innovative, immersive content for our viewers,” said Albert Cheng, executive vice president, Digital Media, Disney-ABC Television Group. “In the months ahead, ABC.com will not only deliver a high quality, on-demand viewing experience to users, but will also gain valuable knowledge and research to help us better understand and serve our consumers in the rapidly evolving digital world.”
As part of the trial, ABC has offered ten advertisers the opportunity to test possible in-stream broadband advertising models as well as the ability to take advantage of sponsorships. The unique interactive video ads will take many different forms and will be seen within each episode. Participating advertisers include AT&T, Cingular, Ford, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, Unilever’s Suave, Universal Pictures and Walt Disney Pictures, among others.
“We have said all along that we are dedicated to finding ways to bring our advertiser partners along with us as we embrace new ways of doing business in the world of digital media,” said Mike Shaw, president, Sales and Marketing, ABC Television Network. “This unique project has allowed us to offer our advertisers the ability to deliver increased effectiveness in their messaging through targeted and engaging interactive ads that offer compelling consumer experiences.”
Combining an all-new sleek, modern design with user-friendly functionality, ABC.com will offer episodes the day after they premiere on the linear channel. Consumers will be able to pause and move back and forth between “chapters” within each episode, but will not have the ability to fast-forward through advertisements. Episodes will be streamed in 16×9 formatting which offers a cinema-like feel to the viewing experience.
Encoded and streamed in Flash 8, which offers the best video quality and allows users on both Mac and PC platforms to watch the video episode, will be offered in two different sizes. The standard viewing size is 500×282 pixels (streamed at 400kbs), and the larger viewing size is 700×394 pixels (streamed 700 kbps).
“Lost” was created by Jeffrey Lieber and J.J. Abrams & Damon Lindelof. Abrams, Lindelof, Bryan Burk, Jack Bender and Carlton Cuse serve as executive producers. “Lost,” which is filmed entirely on location in Hawaii, is from Touchstone Television.
Marc Cherry is executive producer and creator and Tom Spezialy is executive producer of “Desperate Housewives,” which is from Touchstone Television.
“Alias” was created by J.J. Abrams, who executive-produces the series along with Ken Olin, Jeff Pinkner, Jesse Alexander and Jeffrey Bell. The series, which is filmed in Los Angeles and premiered on September 30, 2001, is from Touchstone Television.
“Commander In Chief” was created by Rod Lurie. Steven Bochco, Dee Johnson, Rod Lurie and Marc Frydman serve as executive producers. The series is produced by Touchstone Television in association with Steven Bochco Productions.
The Disney-ABC Television Group is home to all of The Walt Disney Company’s worldwide entertainment and news television properties. The Group includes the ABC Television Network, Disney Channel’s worldwide portfolio of kids channels, ABC Family and SOAPnet; as well as television production and syndication divisions Touchstone Television, Walt Disney Television Animation, Buena Vista Television and Walt Disney Television International. Disney-ABC Television Group also manages the Company’s equity interest in Lifetime Entertainment Services, A&E Television Networks and E! Networks cable groups.