ABC Affiliates Agree to VOD Deal

ABC and its affiliate association are partnering to make ABC programs available on-demand through cable, satellite and telco distributors.

The content will feature “fast-forwarding-disabled” commercials, meaning that viewers can’t skip through them.

The deal involves both ABC’s owned and non-owned stations and distributors that agree to the deal. The number of commercials during the VOD airing is still to be determined, but it will be fewer than what appears in the network’s live airing. Affiliates have the opportunity to insert one 30-second spot within each half-hour.

“We remain focused on our consumers and finding innovative ways to make our content more widely available to them and we believe this can be achieved by continuing to evolve the ways we work with our distribution and advertising partners,” Disney Media Networks co-chair and Disney-ABC Television Group president Anne Sweeney said in a statement. “This arrangement provides further proof of the dedication the network and our affiliates have to working together in unique and inventive ways to create new opportunities that build all of our businesses.”

ABC’s affiliates association supports the initiative. “We believe it includes many important, affiliate-friendly features that provide an opportunity for local ABC stations to share in the economics of video-on-demand,” ABC Television Affiliates Association chairman Ray Cole said in a statement.

ABC -- which initially announced the initiative at the Cable Show last year -- tested the program with Cox Communications in Orange Country, Calif., with 93% of users content to sit through commercials if it means watching ABC hits like Lost and Grey’s Anatomy when they desire.

The network said it was lifting its “repurposing restrictions” on its content, potentially opening the door to expanded deals with download services such as iTunes and Xbox.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.