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Disney To Post Television Shows Online

By: David Utter

Hits series from ABC Television and the Disney Channel will be available online the day after broadcast., a component of The Walt Disney Company (DIS), reported on Disney's new aim at the online viewing market:

Shows such as "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost" will be available on the Web the morning after they air, and will be archived so viewers can eventually watch an entire season of shows from outlets that include ABC and the Disney Channel.

New technology will be aimed at preventing viewers from fast-forwarding through commercials, in an effort to keep advertisers happy.

Disney's now-biggest holder of individual shares, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, stood with Disney CEO Bob Iger last October to announce the new video iPod, and the availability of programs like "Lost" through iTunes on a next-day, $1.99 basis.

This new proposal shifts the viewing to online instead of offline, and includes advertising. Several Hollywood guilds took issue with online delivery of television content and angled for better compensation given the new distribution model that was not part of their contracts.

Local affiliates were not greatly pleased with the iTunes deal either, as they perceived the ability to grab shows online one that would impact their ratings, particularly for their bread-and-butter news shows that lead into and cap prime time programming schedules. From the Journal:

Albert Cheng, executive vice president of digital media for the Disney-ABC Television Group, says the company is looking for ways to give affiliates a piece of the action. "Do we share ads? Do we try and push traffic to each other's Web sites? We just haven't nailed down the right formula for that yet," he says.

Disney should announce more details about the plan, including an April 30th debut and an updated ABC website providing the shows, later today. The Wall Street Journal interviewed Anne Sweeney, president of the Disney-ABC Television Group about the new offering.

She revealed ten advertisers, including Ford (F) and Procter & Gamble (PG), have signed on to participate. Advertising will be limited to three one-minute-minimum commercials, all from the same sponsor, during a broadcast hour.

Other content would become available in later months. The Disney Channel should launch with five shows online in June, while the company's Soapnet cable channel will debut online on April 17th for Verizon broadband customers. Disney also wants to provide an online offering for its ABC Family programs.

The proposal could possibly cause issues for cable TV providers who carry Disney programming, and retailers like Wal-Mart (WMT), which sell Disney and ABC DVDs.


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