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ABC Shows to Go On Demand, Sans DVR Fast-forwarding

25 Feb, 2008 By: Chris Tribbey

Walt Disney Co.'s ABC and its affiliates have reached an agreement to expand on-demand offerings to consumers — with a catch.

ABC will provide its programming to any satellite, cable or telephone system operator's on-demand service, if they agree to show the ad-supported shows without allowing customers to us the fast-forwarding features available on most digital video recorders.

“We remain focused on our consumers and finding innovative ways to make our content more widely available to them, and we believe that this can be achieved by continuing to evolve the ways we work with our distribution and advertising partners,” said Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks, and president of the Disney-ABC Television Group. “This new arrangement provides further proof of the dedication the network and our affiliates have to working together in unique and inventive ways to create new opportunities that build all of our businesses.”

The number of commercials that accompany shows is still being determined. However it will be fewer than seen during a live broadcast, according to the agreement.

Broadcast affiliates also will have the opportunity to include one locally sold, 30-second commercial during the broadcast. The agreement also leaves open “repurposing” opportunities for ABC programming on iTunes and Xbox Live's Marketplace.

“This new agreement is a win-win for everyone,” said Ben Pyne, president of global distribution for Disney Media Networks. “Our broadcast affiliates gain incremental revenue and promotional opportunities; our cable, satellite and telco partners will now have the opportunity to grow their on-demand offerings; our advertisers have an additional platform to add to their mix; and most importantly, the desire of consumers to have additional access to our programming is fulfilled.”

ABC and cable operator Cox Communications tested the ad-supported, no fast-forwarding concept for ABC programming in Orange County, Calif. over a period of several months, and found that 93% of users reported no qualms with the advertising if it meant automatic and free access to ABC shows.

“Cox customers in Orange County roared their approval of the free ad-supported ABC content made available in the My Primetime category of our on demand service,” said Cox Communications president Pat Esser.

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