Open Access from ABC: Contradiction or Market Insight?

ABC - Your Free Video is LoadingYou can’t help but feel uneasy when one of Hollywood’s largest protégés for extended copyright terms suddenly warms up to Open Content: Disney Corp.’s ABC announced at the end of last week that it would start streaming four of its most popular TV shows for free over the Internet. The episodes would be available within a day of their television broadcast and shown in a special player that comes with built-in advertising…

On one hand, ABC and Disney hope to undercut the TiVO dilemma, by which users started recording their favorite shows and soon discovered the digital convenience of skipping through ads. With ABC’s proprietary players, skipping won’t be an option on the menu. On the other hand, the media giant also wants to embark on a new advertising model altogether and wants to give users more choice on which ads they’d prefer, including novelties such as interactive and gaming ads. Jeff Jarvis made this insightful comment on his BuzzMachine blog:

What this really means: TV is grabbing a share of online advertising by redefining TV as both broadcast and broadband. Advertisers have always been more comfortable spending big money on TV. Now they can continue to spend their money with those familiar players and get broadband, too. And TV is doing this so as not to lose money to other media even as broadcast — and next, cable — shrink; this is how they rescue upfront. And if TV succeeds at holding advertisers’ attention and money, other players — online companies, magazines, newspapers — may not be able to break in. This an effort for both networks and ad agencies to keep ahead.

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