In another small victory for MVPDs, ABC said it will make its content available through its newly renamed app only to authenticated pay TV customers, effective July 1.
The broadcaster is changing the name of its app from ABC Player to Watch ABC, and will begin providing live streaming. ABC furthermore said that it will stream only to customers of pay TV services.
ABC said it has deals in place with Comcast, Cablevision, Cox, Charter, Midcontinent and AT&T (U-verse).
The app is now available to viewers of ABC affiliates in New York and Philadelphia (access if free until July 1). ABC said the app is scheduled for launch after July 1st in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham and Fresno. Hearst Television has signed on to launch streaming in its 13 markets as well; other affiliates owned by other companies will presumably follow.
The move is widely considered to be a countermeasure against Aereo, the company that uses arrays of antennas (one antenna per subscriber) to pull down over-the-air TV signals and forward the signals to subscribers via broadband. While anyone can pull down an OTA signal for free, Aereo justifies its monthly fee by providing network DVR functions.
This announcement represents a defining moment in technology and distribution, as well as for our advertising and affiliate partners, as we ensure that our high-quality content is available to viewers on a variety of devices," said Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks, and president, Disney/ABC Television Group. "Our mission with this special preview is to gather key learnings about the service and the consumers who utilize it in order for our WATCH products to be the gold standard experience of authenticated multiplatform viewing."
The app is currently available only for Apple devices running iOS 5.0 or later; with Android devices to follow at some unspecified date.