ABC.com to Offer Seven Shows for Free Viewing

Sep 13, 2006  •  Post A Comment

ABC will stream seven shows including “Ugly Betty” and “Lost” on ABC.com beginning Sept. 23, marking the network’s widest distribution of its marquee shows online.

The network also will offer full-length, advertising-supported episodes of “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Six Degrees,” “The Knights of Prosperity” and “The Nine.” ABC.com ran a two-month trial of the service with two shows in May and June.

The broadcaster also said that it struck a deal for local affiliates to feature the ABC.com video player on their Web sites and to sell local ads. That allows stations to insert ads on the player, which may boost their revenue and smooth feathers ruffled when ABC last year bypassed affiliates to make its landmark deal to sell show episodes on Apple Computer’s iTunes store.

The iTunes deal and the ABC.com trial in spring have helped put ABC at the forefront of networks putting TV shows on the Web. The ABC.com video player will be a permanent feature of the Web site. Its development indicates that the broadcaster wants to build up its own Web site to compete with online portals such as Google Inc. as a destination for Internet video.

The seven shows will be available on ABC.com the day after their broadcast premieres, with about four episodes from each show offered at any given time. In addition, ABC.com will include half-hour recaps of “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

The ABC.com streaming initiative has been well-regarded in the industry for its ease of use and was honored with an Interactive Television Emmy Award.

In May and June, the player served more than 5.7 million episodes, and ABC said research from Frank N. Magid Associates found that 87 percent of users were likely to recommend the site to others.