TV Networks Finally Discover Live Streaming; Still Get It Really, Really Wrong

from the of-course-they-do dept

Over and over again people have pointed out that one of the reasons people flock to "unauthorized" versions of content is that legitimate versions aren't available. For a decade or so, it's been odd that network TV has been generally resistant to embracing the internet. A big part of the reason, of course, is money driven, since they make so much cash from cable deals (even if their content is free over the air). The fight with Aereo, of course, is not so much about copyright as it is about retransmission fees that the networks can get from cable. So it might seem like a bit of progress to see that the networks are finally moving towards live streaming of content.

While many shows are now available online, they usually aren't available until hours (or sometimes days or weeks) after things air. And while, yes, we're now a DVR world, where people don't always watch shows when they air, there is still a sizable population of fans of shows that like to watch them in real-time. In fact, many have said that the supposedly evil internet is actually making them more interested in watching live, because they can share the cultural experience more widely via things like Twitter and Facebook. So, recognizing that reality, making it easier for people to view the content live at the same time, such as via online streaming, makes a lot of sense. Kudos to the networks for recognizing that, about a decade later than they should have.
Disney's ABC network will become the first broadcast network to stream its shows live online through an ongoing service, starting with viewers of its TV stations in New York and Philadelphia on May 14 and expanding to its other stations by the end of the summer.
Okay, that's the good part. But, given who we're talking about, of course there's a catch. There's always a catch:
Starting on July 1, Disney will only provide its WATCH ABC service to subscribers of cable, satellite and other TV subscription services that have agreements with ABC to offer the service to their subscribers in New York and Philadelphia. Subscribers must provide an authentication code to be granted access to the shows.

Later this summer, Disney said it will expand use of its WATCH ABC service to authenticated subscribers that receive its TV stations in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham and Fresno, California.
Remember, this is free, over the air, network television we're talking about. But they're so frightened of pissing off the cable/satellite guys from whom they make boatloads of money, they won't offer the content to cord cutters -- only to people who are already paying ridiculous sums for cable/satellite TV.

Oh, and rather than make it work on any platform, it appears to be specific to certain devices:
The app will initially allow users to be able to watch the service on Apple's iPad and iPhone and on the Kindle Fire device, and later this summer on Samsung Galaxy devices.
Oh, and they're not done with the bad ideas either:
The report also claims that in the future, ABC will “withhold its most recent TV episodes from the free versions of Hulu and, further limiting access to paying subscribers of cable and satellite providers only.”
Way to take a good idea (live streaming) and make it completely crappy and pointless again (locking it to devices and existing overpriced pay TV offerings while taking away the value for everyone else and further fragmenting the space).

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  1. icon
    Gwiz (profile), 15 May 2013 @ 8:14am


    Yeah, I don't get that either.

    Another annoying "feature" of the free Hulu service is only having the latest 5 episodes of a show available. If someone happens to catch a middle episode at a friends house, likes it and then wants to see the series from the beginning they are SOL. Those are new eyeballs on ads that they are missing out on. Doesn't make much sense to me.

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