The WSJ reports that many popular ABC shows will be streamed over the WWW free:
Walt Disney Co. plans to make much of its newest and most popular programming on ABC and other channels available free anytime on the Web, in a move that could speed the transformation of television viewing habits and help revive the struggling TV advertising business.
Episodes of the ABC shows -- which can be paused, rewound and fast-forwarded -- will contain commercial breaks that viewers can't skip, making Disney hopeful it has figured out a way to turn the delivery of programs over the Web into a profit-generating business.
Of course this makes the traditional content syndication business less relevant by the second:
Offering so much content online will probably ruffle some feathers. ABC affiliates, long accustomed to exclusive broadcast rights to new shows, are already griping that they don't profit from the network's deal with Apple.
The ad model will let viewers determine the types of ads they are interested in watching:
The ads won't look like typical TV commercials. For starters, instead of five commercial breaks during an hourlong episode, there will be three breaks lasting a minimum of one minute each -- all of them from the same advertiser. Mike Shaw, ABC's president of sales, says viewers will have a choice of what type of ad to watch -- for instance, a traditional video commercial or an interactive "game" commercial.
But Disney does not want to get stuck in Google's network:
Key to Disney's online TV strategy is to keep tight control of programs, which rules out partnerships with companies such as Google Inc. that are moving into video on demand.
Will this accelerate consumer adoption of video distribution over the web? Will other media companies be able to sell ads direct? Or will many of them be forced into Google Video (or similar networks) due to slimming margins and/or less relevance as the abundance of free or cheap on demand choices increases?