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ABC first major broadcaster to live-stream shows to iPad

by David Needle

May 13 2013

ABC shows like Grey's Anatomy will be streamed live via a new iPad app.
ABC shows like Grey's Anatomy will be streamed live via a new iPad app.

ABC will soon give iPad and iPhone users the ability to watch live streams of all the local programming at TV stations in the New York and Philadelphia area.

It’s believed to be first time any major broadcaster has live-streamed its programming. ABC said that in addition to Apple devices, it plans to support other phones and tablets in the coming months.

The move is more than a technology issue for broadcasters who have to secure the necessary rights from programming providers.

But now having done that, ABC will be able to stream all of its stations’ local newscasts, syndicated talk shows like “Katie,” and national series like “Grey’s Anatomy”, according to a report in the New York Times.

The live stream “Watch ABC” app will be available only to paying subscribers of cable and satellite providers. The NYT story says the network is also in talks with the companies that own ABC’s more than 200 affiliates to make the “live” button work in their markets.

ABC also said it’s able to insert new ads into the commercial breaks, which could mean a different rate card and opportunity for advertisers interested specifically in the tablet demographic.

The original plan was to introduce live-streaming apps in 2014, but ABC decided to speed things up.

“We keep a very close eye on consumer demand,” Anne Sweeney, the president of the Disney-ABC Television Group, told the New York Times. “We watch how people are behaving with their devices, and we really felt that we needed to move faster.

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