ABC.com to Feature Prime-Time Shows This Fall

Aug 3, 2006  •  Post A Comment

ABC said it plans to make episodes of some of its shows available online through its Web site this season. The network did not specify which shows would be featured.

The network put episodes of four series including “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives” on ABC.com as a test in May and June. The episodes were available for free, with limited commercial interruption.

ABC said it received 5.7 million episode requests and served 16 million video streams during the test period. Its research, conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates, found that 79 percent of viewers surveyed had a positive online viewing experience and 87 percent responded that they were likely to recommend the site to others. The average age of the users was 29; half were college graduates.

“The research that has come out of the trial helped prove true several hypotheses regarding our consumers and their online viewing patterns,” said Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of the Disney-ABC Television Group. “With the data we’ve collected, we are better equipped to move forward with our advertisers and affiliates to create new multiplatform opportunities for our consumers.”

Most of the online viewing of episodes occurred within 24 hours of their broadcast on ABC. About two-thirds of those surveyed watched complete episodes. The No. 1 reason reported for viewing online was because users had missed the episode on TV.

“We have been extremely pleased with the consumer feedback from the trial and are busy working on some minor adjustments to the broadband player in order to again make full episodes available to consumers this fall,” said Albert Cheng, executive VP of digital media for the Disney-ABC Television Group. “When we relaunch, the basic concept of ad-supported, free to the consumer full-length episodes will return, along with some added features to enhance the consumer experience.”

Discussions with ABC affiliates are under way regarding their anticipated involvement with the project, the network said.

During the test, five affiliates put promotions and links to the ABC.com broadband player on their own Web sites, including ABC’s KABC-TV, Los Angeles; Belo’s WFAA-TV, Dallas; Cox’s WFTV-TV, Orlando, Fla.; Hearst-Argyle’s WISN-TV, Milwaukee; and Young Broadcasting’s WATE-TV, Knoxville, Tenn.

The test was supported by 10 advertisers: AT&T, Cingular, Ford, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, Unilever, Universal Pictures and Walt Disney Pictures.

ABC said 87 percent of users surveyed were able to recall the advertiser that sponsored the episode they viewed and 84 percent said that they were getting a “great deal by being able to watch the episode online for free in exchange for watching the ads.”