In a bold move announced this morning, Disney will begin streaming their most popular television shows like LOST and Desperate Housewives live on ABC’s newly revamped website on April 30th. The shows will be available for download the next morning, free of cost. The only catch is, viewers will not be able to scroll through (or fast forward) through the 5 "one-minute" commercials that ABC has sold. Ford, Proctor & Gamble, Universal Pictures have already signed on to serve as primary advertisers.
This is a huge shift from just a few months ago, when Disney began selling episodes of Desperate Housewives on iTunes for $1.99. It also notes that their unsuccessful attempt to sell ESPN commercials on iTunes taught them a valuable lesson. It’s definitely another avenue to take advantage of people’s access to high-speed and broadband networks. ABC is also serving as the first network to make its shows as available to the public as possible all while maintaining a profit. After CBS’s success of streaming live games of the NCAA tournament, ABC decided it need to step up to the plate.
The verdict is still out until the new ABC.com is unveiled and we can determine whether the technology and quality is as Disney says it is. However, this is a big step for the TV Networks and another showcase of traditional media turning to the web to make more return on their investments.