ABC Tests On-Demand Links

May 8, 2006  •  Post A Comment

A handful of ABC affiliates are taking part in a test that lets visitors to station Web sites access ABC’s site to watch shows free on-demand.

For the five stations, the test may demonstrate whether they can benefit from the network’s ABC.com project, which is supported by advertising that can’t be skipped. Stations have bridled at having been left out of ABC’s other digital business forays, including the network’s partnership with Apple Computer’s iTunes.

Belo’s WFAA-TV in Dallas; Cox Broadcasting’s WFTV in Orlando; Hearst-Argyle Television’s WISN-TV in Milwaukee and Young Broadcasting’s WATE-TV in Knoxville, Tenn.; and ABC-owned KABC-TV in Los Angeles last week installed links on their local Web sites to the ABC.com broadband test page.

The stations are promoting the link, which was created to enable the user to click through to the network broadband page without leaving the local station’s Web site. WISN President and General Manager Frank Biancuzzo said the test program may help him chart the power of the affiliate to drive local traffic to the network site.

“This is not a sales-driven experiment,” he said.

WFAA in Dallas already has sold ads supporting the link. Some affiliate executives said their interest in the program will depend on whether it generates ad sales.

The network said it’s selling more ads for ABC.com than it had expected. ABC initially thought it would seek two or three advertising partners for the experiment but soon had 10, said Alan Ives, the network’s VP of Interactive Sales.

“It was a pretty quick turnaround time,” Mr. Ives said.

The ads rotate through the free Web episodes of “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Commander in Chief” and “Alias.”