Starting perhaps the most ambitious live digital video service to date, Disney/ABC Television is launching Watch ABC -- the first live broadcast network streaming linear service.
"Watch ABC," where viewers and access ABC Network programming live 24/7 on digital devices, will start up May 14 in New York City and Philadelphia as part of a special limited promotion, timed to the ABC upfront television presentation, and free for all viewers in those markets. Disney-ABC also struck an agreement for Watch ABC with the 13 Hearst-owned ABC affiliated stations which will launch in the coming months.
Watch ABC will expand to all ABC-owned stations for the new fall 2013 fall broadcast season.
Watch ABC is an authenticated service that consumers can get free if they are a paying customer of a cable, satellite, or telco multichannel programming service. Comcast, Cablevision, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Midcontinent Communications and AT&T U-verse have signed on for the Watch ABC effort.
Previous Disney-ABC network digital app video services include the ABC Full Episode Player for online and ABC Player for tablets and phones. Those services, however, did not offer live programming -- but rather video-on-demand entertainment programming that previously ran on the ABC network.
But Disney-ABC has launched live streaming/on-demand services before under the same "Watch" brand name: Watch Disney Channel, Watch Disney XD and Watch Disney Junior started up in June 2012. Before that Watch ESPN was launched, a live streaming service for six ESPN networks.
Plans are also in place to roll out Watch ABC Family in early 2014.
"This announcement represents a defining moment in technology and distribution, as well as for our advertising and affiliate partners, as we ensure that our high-quality content is available to viewers on a variety of devices,” said Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks, and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, in a release.
The special open-access preview in New York and Philadelphia runs through the end of June.