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Disney-ABC to Offer Fully Ad-Supported Series Episodes Online

Apr 10, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Disney-ABC Television Group will offer full-length episodes of four ABC prime-time series online at ABC.com as part of a two-month experiment to test the viability of totally ad-supported online content, the company announced Monday.

Current episodes of “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Commander in Chief” and the entire current season of “Alias” will be available for streaming during May and June, marking the first time a broadcaster is making multiple series available for viewing online free of charge.

As part of the trial, 10 advertisers will run interactive video ads that will be seen within each episode. Participating advertisers include AT&T, Cingular, Ford Motor Co., Procter & Gamble, Toyota, Unilever’s Suave, Universal Pictures and ABC’s sister company Walt Disney Pictures.

Also Monday, the group said that it will launch Soapnetic, a broadband channel dedicated to fans of soap operas, on April 17.

Results from the experiment will be shared with local network affiliates, Alex Wallau, president of operations and administration for ABC Television Network, said in a release. “Our ultimate goal is to find an effective online model, one in which our affiliates can take part,” he said.

ABC.com will offer episodes the day after they premiere on the network. Viewers will be able to pause and move back and forth between so-called “chapters” within each episode, but will not have the ability to skip advertisements. Episodes will be streamed in 16:9 aspect ratio, and viewable on both Mac and PC platforms. Episodes will be offered in two sizes: 500 x 282 pixels (streamed at 400 kbps) and 700 x 394 pixels (700 kbps).