ABC Takes Prime Time Shows Online

Disney said Monday that it would further expand its online programming options by making four popular ABC prime time television shows available online the day after they air. The offering is part of a two-month trial that would begin in May.

The free TV episodes would be advertiser supported, with AT&T, Ford, Procter & Gamble and Universal Pictures already having bought ad space in the online broadcasts.

"Desperate Housewives," "Lost," "Commander and Chief," and "Alias" would be made available. Newer episodes of the shows will appear online the morning after they air. Users would be able to skip between the "chapters" of an episode, but they would not be able to skip over embedded commercials.

ABC has already made all the shows except for "Alias" available through the iTunes Music Store for $1.99 USD per commercial-free episode. However, in this test the episodes would only be streamed and not available for download to a portable device.

Episodes would be in a 16x9 video format. Additionally, the videos would be encoded in Flash 8 which would make them viewable on both Mac and PC platforms. The standard viewing size would be 500x282 pixels, however a higher bandwidth version would be available at 700x394 pixels.

"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," said Disney-ABC Television Group president Anne Sweeney.

"I have been amazed at how long it has taken for any of the mainstream broadcasters to understand the role of the Internet and its impact on their future for some time," commented Creative Strategies analyst Tim Bajarin. "This is a major milestone for the PC and TV industries and most likely will be looked back in history as the tipping point for the fledgling IPTV market."

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