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September 17, 2006

ABC Streaming Seven Shows Through Its Site

NBC wasn't the only network to announce an ambitious plan for streaming several of its shows for free viewing in the past week, as ABC has promoted an ambitious plan to ramp up its online offerings on its own site.

ABC will be making seven of its shows available by streaming them online through their site for free viewing, supported by advertisements. These episodes will be full length and will feature returning viewer favorites such as Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, and Lost, as well as The Knights of Prosperity, The Nine, Six Degrees, and Ugly Betty.

Each of the shows will be made available the day after they air on television and will remain online for several weeks, with four episodes being provided at any one time for each of the shows. Some of the hour-long shows will also have half-hour recaps available for viewers who want to catch up but don't have time to watch the full program.

The service was put in place after ABC came to an agreement with its affiliates across the country on a profit structure that also rewards them for their content, allowing local affiliates to feature the ABC online video player on their Web sites and sell local ads for the content. The stations would be able to place local ads into the free content much as they would selling local ads for network programming through broadcasts.

One of the complications for every network is how to balance their relationship with affiliates when it comes to cross-platform content, and each network has been looking toward settling these sorts of issues, as CBS did over the summer.

The network has been moving toward this model for some time and experimented with offering some of its shows through its Web site over the summer. The network's streaming player even won an Interactive Television Emmy Award.

ABC now joins CBS and NBC in providing its own network player on its site, and Fox has plans to create an expansive online player that will compete more broadly with other video providers, by not just using the player to air Fox content.

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