Five million people watch TV shows online. Called Zero TV people, they now have a new friend, ABC. The network has announced it will be the first broadcast network to go live on the Internet on a full-time basis. “Watch ABC” will debut this fall and allow you to watch ABC from mobile devices and tablets. Initially, it will only be available to people who already have a pay-TV provider. Also, it won’t be available in every market. But it is a game-changing innovation, make no mistake about it.
Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney/ABC Television Group, states, “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.”
The “Watch ABC” effort represents a dramatic shift in the way networks view the Web. While the TV industry has been forced by the public to put more content online, it has mostly used online for video on demand, not live TV. The only thing that is holding back a total shift of TV to the internet is the lack of high-speed internet access in the majority of American homes and the creation of a business model that generates substantial online revenue. By the way, in my home base of Southern Oregon, there is only one local station that seems to grasp the power of the internet: KOBI (California Oregon Broadcasting). More later.