Starting Tuesday, TV viewers in New York and the Philadelphia area will be able to stream ABC live on all kinds of devices, the network announced Sunday.
There's a catch, though -- this is what they call an "authenticated service." And though for the moment, it's open to everyone, it will eventually require proof that you're somehow paying someone to get your TV shows (even though they're theoretically available over the air).
In other words, if you're used to having to enter your Comcast (or other provider) login to watch a service like HBO Go, expect to have to do the same to watch, say, "The View" live on your computer or tablet or mobile phone.
Here's the announcement from ABC:
Dedicated to expanding its network and channel brands across multiple platforms and connecting viewers with their favorite shows anytime and anywhere, Disney/ABC Television Group announced today that, beginning the afternoon of Tuesday, May 14, 2013 to coincide with its ABC Network Upfront presentation, its much anticipated "WATCH ABC" authenticated service will be available to all viewers in the New York City area via WABC-TV, the nation's most watched broadcast station, and WPVI, the #1 local station in Philadelphia, as part of a special open access preview, running through the end of June.
The new WATCH ABC service provides viewers for the first time ever with live access to their favorite ABC shows and local market programming, as well as a variety of on-demand content -- in more ways than ever before at home and on the go around town. In addition to allowing live linear streaming of viewers' local ABC stations, the new authenticated WATCH ABC service will include the great, on-demand full-episode viewing experience that the ABC Full-Episode Player and ABC Player app have offered, respectively, online and via tablets and phones. Viewers can access WATCH ABC online at ABC.com or by downloading the WATCH ABC app on their iOS or Kindle Fire devices. The WATCH ABC app will be available on Samsung Galaxy devices this summer.
Currently Disney/ABC Television Group has agreements in place for its authenticated WATCH products with a variety of Multichannel Video Program Distributors (MVPDs), including Comcast, Cablevision, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Midcontinent Communications and AT&T U-verse.
"WATCH ABC is a game-changing innovation for the broadcast television industry. We're extremely excited to offer this open access preview to our WABC and WPVI viewers in New York and Philadelphia. 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."
Following the end of the open access preview, the WATCH ABC live streams will continue to be available in NYC and Philadelphia to authenticated users. Additionally, this summer WATCH ABC will roll out in the other six ABC-owned station markets, which include Los Angeles (KABC-TV), Chicago (WLS-TV), San Francisco (KGO-TV), Houston (KTRK-TV), Raleigh-Durham (WTVD-TV) and Fresno (KFSN-TV).
In addition to launching in the eight ABC-owned markets, the network has reached an agreement with Hearst Television to launch the WATCH ABC service in their 13 ABC station markets, which include Boston, Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Milwaukee, in the coming months. Agreements with other station groups are expected to be announced prior to the launch of the new Fall Season.
"Hearst Television recognizes that consumers want the ability to view our stations' programming on any device that has a screen," said David Barrett, chairman and CEO, Hearst Television, Inc. "Our Hearst ABC affiliates are eager to work with the ABC team to deploy the innovative WATCH app experience in our local markets."
The launch of WATCH ABC follows the successful rollout of three authenticated WATCH Disney services -- WATCH Disney Channel, WATCH Disney XD and WATCH Disney Junior -- in June 2012. Downloaded nearly 15 million times since their debut, the three WATCH Disney products provide authenticated users with both access to live, linear network streams as well as an extensive offering of advantaged window "on demand" episodes. In addition to WATCH ABC and the WATCH Disney services, Disney Media Networks offers WatchESPN, an authenticated 24/7 live stream of six networks, including all of ESPN's sports and studio shows. Plans are also in place to roll out WATCH ABC Family in early 2014.