ABC to Offer Free Streams of TV Shows Also Sold via iTunes

Disney-ABC announced today in a press release that four TV shows, including three currently sold in the iTunes Music Store, will be made available for viewing at the ABC website the day after their network broadcasts, as part of an experiment during May and June.

"Commander in Chief", "Desperate Housewives", and "Lost" are already sold through the iTunes Music Store, for $1.99 per episode. The current season of "Alias", which is not sold in the Store, will be available as well.

Broadcasts will be streamed using Flash 8, in either 500x282 at 400kbs or 700x394 at 700 kbps, both of which use the 16x9 aspect ratio. Users, on Macs or PCs, will be able to pause and select chapters, but not skip the commercials from major advertisers that will make up part of the stream. These commercials will be interactive.

Our mission with this trial is to gather key learning about the technology and the consumers who utilize it in order for ABC.com to become the leading broadband digital entertainment experience, packed with innovative, immersive content for our viewers. In the months ahead, ABC.com will not only deliver a high quality, on-demand viewing experience to users, but will also gain valuable knowledge and research to help us better understand and serve our consumers in the rapidly evolving digital world.

ABC was the first major television network to distribute their shows via the iTunes Music Store, and will now be offering viewers a choice to watch the original broadcast, purchase shows without commercials from the iTunes Music Store, or (during the two-month experiment) watch the free broadband stream.

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