ABC Builds Pay Wall For Its VOD Content

ABC started off 2014 by installing a new video-on-demand policy that limits next-day access to its newest TV episodes to authenticated pay TV subs, Hulu Plus customers and consumers who pay directly for shows via iTunes and Amazon Instant Video.

The policy shift, which follows a similar walledgarden approach put into place by Fox in August of 2011, took effect Monday (Jan. 6). Now, consumers who get TV service from a participating multichannel video programming distributor or subscribe to Hulu Plus can watch new TV episodes on demand the day after they air. Everyone else will have to pay for them outright or wait a week. Prior to the change, ABC shows were available to anyone for free soon after they aired on the network.

Eight distributors currently have rights to offer next-day access to ABC’s new shows: AT&T, Cablevision Systems, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications, Google Fiber, Midcontinent Communications and Verizon Communications. Customers of those providers will need to sign in with their authentication credentials at or via the Watch ABC app. Shows that are subject to the new policy now carry the “Verify to Watch” label.

ABC said it is making the shift to preserve its relationship with pay TV distributors while still retaining the ability to provide delayed access of its shows to all consumers.

“Pay TV service providers are a key part of the television industry in delivering broadcast content through new technology platforms,” the network explained in an online FAQ about the change. “Now, with the support of participating pay TV service providers, the ABC network is able to continue to bring live entertainment, news and sports programming on a national and local level, as well as the latest on-demand episodes on new, emerging digital platforms, at no additional cost to their subscribers. This approach also allows ABC to offer several on-demand episodes that are available to everyone.”


ABC has instituted a new VOD policy limiting next-day access to its online content to paying customers only.