Disney/ABC said that it will launch its Watch ABC service tomorrow featuring the live streaming of WABC New York and WPVI Philadelphia. Hearst is the first station group to sign on to provide the service with its eight ABC affiliates. Disney/ABC said it expects to reach agreements with other affiliate groups before the start of the fall season.
Hearst Television and other ABC affiliates will join the ABC O&Os in live streaming their broadcast signals so that they can be received by “authenticated” cable subscribers on tablets and smartphones, Disney/ABC Television Group announced late last night.
The Watch ABC app will also give consumers the ability to watch episodes of ABC shows on an on-demand, delayed basis just as they can now on ABC.com.
Disney/ABC said that it will launch the Watch ABC service tomorrow, the same day as its upfront presentation in New York, making apps available to all for WABC New York and WPVI Philadelphia during a “special open access preview” running through the end of June.
Thereafter, consumers will have to be cable subscribers in good standing to receive the service.
Disney/ABC has distribution agreements in place for its Watch products with several cable operators, including Comcast, Cablevision, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Midcontinent Communications and AT&T U-verse.
Also this summer, Disney/ABC will roll out the service to its six other O&Os: KABC Los Angeles, WLS Chicago, KGO San Francisco, KTRK Houston, WTVD Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and KFSN Fresno, Calif.
Disney/ABC began talking to affiliates about becoming part of Watch ABC last January. Hearst, which operates eight ABC affiliates, including WCVB Boston and WTAE Pittsburgh, is the first to sign on. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
“Hearst Television recognizes that consumers want the ability to view our stations’ programming on any device that has a screen,” said Hearst CEO David Barrett in a statement. “Our Hearst ABC affiliates are eager to work with the ABC team to deploy the innovative Watch app experience in our local markets.”
Disney/ABC said it expects to reach agreements with other affiliate groups before the start of the fall season.
Disney/ABC said that Watch ABC will follow the “successful” rollout of three other Watch services — Watch Disney Channel, Watch Disney XD and Watch Disney Junior — in June 2012. The three services have generated 15 million downloads of their apps, the company said. Another service, Watch ABC Family, is expected in early 2014
Disney Media Networks also offers WatchESPN, a live stream of six networks, including all of ESPN’s sports and studio shows.
Viewers can access WatchABC online at ABC.com or by downloading the Watch ABC app on their iOS or Kindle Fire devices. And app for the Samsung Galaxy devices will be available this summer.