"Beginning the afternoon of Tuesday, May 14, 2013, [ABC network television] 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," says ABC here.
"The new WATCH ABC service provides viewers for the first time ever with live access to their favorite ABC shows and local market programming...[and will include] on-demand full-episode viewing... 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...
"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, in the statement.
She said ABC will study what consumers do with the service. "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" of Comcast and othter cable TV networks.
Why now? "ABC is taking the fight against Aereo to the New York-based startup's home turf: the network will start streaming its entire programming schedule in real-time to viewers in New York and Philadelphia," reports GigaOM here. More on Aereo from the Inquirer's Bob Fernandez here and here.
Aereo, a low-cost broadcast retransmission service that competes with cable TV, has survived the cable industry's court challenges. ABC will roll out its rival service in New York, where Aereo is based and has most of its existing customers, and in Philadelphia, home of the largest cable company, Comcast, which has the most to lose if cheaper services like Aereo prove popular. Aereo has named Philly one of its target markets for expansion later this year.
"This marks the first time one of the major broadcasters has streamed a 24-hour live feed online," adds GigaOM. "However, there are a few key differences between ABC's and Aereo's approach: After a six-week introductory phase that will be open to anyone in the two markets, ABC's streams will only be available to authenticated cable subscribers. And ABC is using cloud technology to deliver its live streams, making the endeavour a whole lot cheaper than Aereo's..."