NAB 2015

ABC: We Will Work With Affils On Streaming

After listening to Ben Sherwood, Disney/ABC Television Group president, and other ABC execs, the affiliates are said to be “pleased” and “satisfied that whatever they do, it will be done with the affiliates.”

The ABC Affiliate Advisory Board came away from a meeting with network executives satisfied that ABC intends to advance its program streaming plans “in concert” with ABC affiliates.

TV Everywhere and OTT were among the subjects the ABC board discussed when they met with Ben Sherwood, Disney/ABC Television Group president, and other ABC execs Monday during the NAB Show in Las Vegas.

It was the board’s first meeting with Sherwood, who formerly ran ABC News, since he officially started in his current job in January. “He lightly touched upon his vision [for ABC] and we talked about some upcoming programming,” ABC Affiliate Board Chairman Mike Devlin told TVNewsCheck after the meeting.

But considerably more time was spent at the meeting talking about streaming, said Devlin, who is president-GM of WFAA Dallas. “On that subject, the group came away at this point pleased,” he said. “We were satisfied that whatever they do, it will be done with the affiliates.”

Like other affiliate groups at the other networks, ABC affiliates have been slow to sign on to launch their network’s TV Everywhere service, ABC Watch. Among other considerations, there have been hints that ABC might be considering launching a subscription-based service similar to CBS’s over-the-top service, CBS All Access.

“They’re looking at everything [and] didn’t commit to anything,” Devlin said. But he emphasized that the board members were “satisfied” with what they heard from “the two Bens” at the meeting — Sherwood and Ben Pyne, president of global distribution for Disney Media Networks.


Whatever ABC does, Devlin said, “both of them assured the affiliates it would be done in concert with the affiliate stations.”

Sherwood declined to comment on the meeting when TVNewsCheck asked him for an interview following the meeting.

Devlin said the meeting also covered some “FCC and regulatory issues,” including the commission’s proposed rulemaking on reclassifying online streaming services as MVPDs — possibly including TV stations that make their programming available to stream.

The ABC board even saw some brief clips of primetime shows under consideration for ABC’s fall lineup, which will be unveiled next month at the upfront sales presentations in New York.

Devlin characterized the Monday meeting in Las Vegas as “collegial.”

“We have a very collegial relationship with ABC,” he said. “I think we can be frank with them.”

Read TVNewscheck’s other NAB Show digital coverage here. Find our full convention coverage here.

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