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ABC to Provide New HD, Mobile Streams

ABC says it will soon deliver high-definition programming over the Internet, as well as provide a range of on-demand and streaming content to Sprint mobile phones.

The network said it will launch a beta-test in early July of a broadband “HD channel” on that will provide a limited number of primetime shows such as “Lost" and “Grey’s Anatomy” in the same 720-line progressive HD (1280 x 720 resolution) format used by the ABC broadcast network. It said more shows will be available this fall in conjunction with the new television season. ABC did not provide details on what bit-rate it will use to compress the broadband HD content, a key factor in determining the relative picture quality of high-definition video.

"This is all about innovating and creating 'what's next' to give consumers with best experience as they watch our content, regardless of viewing platform," said Albert Cheng, executive vice president, digital media, Disney-ABC Television Group, in a statement.  "With the advancements in display devices and the prevalence of hardware with the processing capabilities to handle this technology, offering true HD content online is a natural." 

ABC said that its broadband video player, which launched in spring 2006, will be expanded further to include national news and local content, in addition to primetime entertainment programming, and provide “geo-targeting” that will allow local ads to be delivered to Internet users. So far, ABC affiliates covering 80% of the country, including major station groups as well as the 10 ABC-owned stations, have launched or committed to using the broadband video player on their individual Websites.

ABC also announced that it will provide a range of content primetime and news content to Sprint mobile users, including on-demand, full-length episodes of hits shows like “Desperate Housewives” and a new linear mobile channel, ABC Mobile, that will feature streaming versions of primetime-shows and ABC News content as such as “Good Morning America” and “Nightline.”

Sprint will also provide a new linear channel with content from kids network Disney Channel, as well as on-demand access to popular Disney Channel shows like “Hannah Montana.” It already streams ABC linear news channel, ABC News Now, and carries other ABC news programs on-demand.

The content from Disney-ABC Television Group is available via Sprint TV on phones that can receive the Sprint “Power Vision TV Pack”, which costs an additional $20 per month after a voice calling plan. The Sprint Power Vision TV Pack also provides more than 20 other channels of video content. Sprint will alternatively make the Disney Channel content, including the on-demand programs and linear channel, available as part of the Power Vision Access Pack for an additional $15 per month. Both service plans include other data applications such as Web browsing and mobile email.