Rumor: ABC working on subscriber-based streaming app to bring network’s live programming to iOS devices

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Date: Tuesday, March 19th, 2013, 07:26
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Rumor, Software

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You can’t knock additional streaming options if they’re offered to you…

The Walt Disney Company, while sorting out the future of the online video Web site Hulu, has an app in the works that may render Hulu passé for some people.

Per the New York Times, the app will live stream ABC programming to the phones and tablets of cable and satellite subscribers. The app could become available to some subscribers this year, according to people briefed on the project, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about it publicly.

With the app, ABC, a subsidiary of Disney, will become the first of the American broadcasters to provide a live Internet stream of national and local programming to people who pay for cable or satellite. The subscriber-only arrangement, sometimes called “TV Everywhere” in industry circles, preserves the cable business model that is crucial to the bottom lines of broadcasters, while giving subscribers more of what they seem to want — mobile access to TV shows. The arrangement could extend the reach of ads that appear on ABC as well.

Disney already distributes similar live streaming and on-demand apps, known as “Watch” apps, for ESPN and the Disney Channel. Special hurdles exist, however, for the ABC app, in part because of contracts between the network and the companies that produce some of its shows that were written before mobile phone video streaming was even possible. Other complexities involve ABC’s local stations, which might — if not courted properly — feel threatened by an app.

But ABC, seeing shifts in consumer behavior, is pressing forward. The network has started to talk with stations about how to include them in the live streaming app. Illustrating the difficult contractual issues, ABC offhandedly first mentioned a forthcoming Watch ABC app in a news release nine months ago, when it signed a deal with Comcast to make several Watch Disney apps available to Comcast subscribers.

But the network live streaming ability is inching closer to fruition, the people briefed on the project said. A spokesman for ABC declined to comment.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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