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Monday, April 10, 2006

Disney to Offer Some ABC Programs Free on the Web - New York Times

Disney to Offer Some ABC Programs Free on the Web - New York TimesApril 10, 2006


In an effort to extend its broadcast economic model to the Internet, the Walt Disney Company said today that it would offer some of its most popular ABC programs free on its Web sites but with commercials that cannot be eliminated.

The shows include "Desperate Housewives," "Lost," "Commander in Chief" and "Alias." The first two would become available in May, with the others starting in June.

The shows will be available on the Web the morning after they are broadcast on ABC and will be archived so that viewers can eventually watch a whole season of shows. They will be available on the ABC and Disney Channel Web sites.

By making viewers watch commercials if they want to see the popular ABC shows, Disney is gambling that a formula that worked from the early days of broadcast entertainment can be transferred to people who get most of their information from computers, not TV sets.

ABC News reported Disney's plans on its Web site today, confirming a report published this morning in The Wall Street Journal.

The move by Disney and ABC appears to reflect a conclusion by company executives that consumer are willing to pay for so much on-demand programming and may be willing to accept commercials to see programs thy want.

In an interview last month with iMedia Connection, an online report on developments in the entertainment industry, Albert Cheng, the ABC Television Group's executive vice president for digital media, expressed that view.

"There will be a limit on the share of the consumer's wallet that can be spent on pay-per-programs," he said. "Because people may not be able to afford to purchase every show they want to view on demand, other shows could potentially be viewed online in an ad-supported environment."

To view the ABC shows on the Web, people will need a broadband Internet connection.

Disney's Soapnet cable channel is also moving to the Web, and will be available starting next Monday on the Soapnetic site.

Advertisers that are expected to sponsor the Webcasts include Proctor & Gamble, Toyota, Ford, AT&T and Unilever, The Associated Press reported.