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ABC Network Putting Video Behind Paywall: Only Paying Cable/U-verse Subscribers Can Watch

Phillip Dampier July 3, 2013 AT&T, Cablevision, Charter, Comcast/Xfinity, Competition, Consumer News, Cox, Midco, Online Video, Video 1 Comment

WATCH_ABCFree TV? Not quite.

Despite offering free over-the-air television, ABC is putting its programming and stations behind a new paywall that can only be breached by “authenticated” cable and AT&T U-verse subscribers able to prove they already pay to watch.

Watch ABC is the television network’s contribution to the cable industry’s “TV Everywhere” project that offers online viewing options for current cable television subscribers.

Watch ABC now offers on-demand and live viewing of programming aired by the network and six network-owned television stations both at the desktop and through apps for iOS, Android, and the Kindle: New York City’s WABC-TV, Philadelphia’s WPVI, Los Angeles’ KABC, Chicago’s WLS, San Francisco’s KGO, and Raleigh-Durham’s WTVD. (Coming soon: Houston’s KTRK and Fresno’s KFSN.)

During the “online preview,” ABC permitted online viewers within confirmed coverage areas to watch the station nearest them for free. Now, viewers will also have to confirm they are paying cable or AT&T U-verse customers to watch online.

But even then, not everyone will qualify. ABC only has streaming authentication agreements with AT&T U-verse, Cablevision, Charter, Comcast, Cox Communications, and Midcontinent Communications. Watch ABC is currently off-limits to everyone else, including customers of Verizon FiOS, Time Warner Cable, and both satellite services.

ABC has also banned IP addresses known to be associated with anonymous proxy servers. This measure is designed to enforce geographic restrictions to be sure only local viewers can get access to the station in their area.

By this fall, ABC affiliates owned by Hearst are expected to also join Watch ABC’s paywall system.

ABCNews.com announced an experiment with a paywall in the summer of 2010. It never came to fruition.

WPVI in Philadelphia turned over airtime during its evening newscast to self-promote the new ‘Watch ABC’ app and explain how it works. Effective now, it only works with preferred partner cable companies and AT&T U-verse. (Aired: May 14, 2013) (2 minutes)

Currently there is 1 comment on this Article:

  1. FrankM says:

    I don’t really give a crap about “watchABC”, as my antenna + TiVo does fine for me.

    But there seems to be a service gap here. People that live in the broadcast area of one of these ABC stations but cannot receive an adequate signal, are still forced to pay for cable to get the channel that the broadcaster ALLEGEDLY PROVIDES TO A CERTAIN GEOGRAPHIC AREA.

    The WatchABC app COULD have been a way for internet customers in a geographic IP range to receive a usable signal, without paying for basic cable — which is what a broadcaster SHOULD be doing.

    If your power company had a nice side business of installing and maintaining backup generators, you would probably question their commitment to maintain their infrastructure to provide reliable service. By tying free broadcast services to pay programming providers, that is exactly the same lack of commitment! Free TV should be FREE!

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