ABC is following Fox with a new policy that will limit access to its newest TV episodes to authenticated pay-TV subs, Hulu Plus customers and consumers who pay directly for them via iTunes and Amazon Instant Video.
According to an FAQ posted by ABC explaining the change, the new policies enter play on January 6. After that date, consumers who get TV service from a participating MVPD or subscribe to Hulu Plus get next-day access to new TV episodes. All others will have to pay for them or wait a week. GigaOm first reported of the policy sift on Tuesday afternoon.
Currently, eight MVPDs have deals in place with to obtain next-day access to ABC’s new shows: AT&T U-verse, Cablevision Systems, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications, Google Fiber, Midcontinent Communications and Verizon FiOS TV. Customers of those providers will need to sign in with their authentication credentials at WatchABC.com or via the Watch ABC app.
ABC said it is making the shift to preserve its relationship with pay-TV distributors while still retaining the ability to provide delayed access of its shows to all consumers.
“Pay TV service providers are a key part of the television industry in delivering broadcast content through new technology platforms,” the network explained. “Now, with the support of participating pay TV service providers, the ABC network is able to continue to bring live entertainment, news and sports programming on a national and local level as well as the latest on-demand episodes on new, emerging digital platforms at no additional cost to their subscribers. This approach also allows ABC to offer several on-demand episodes that are available to everyone.”
Fox launched a similar walled garden policy in August of 2011, with Dish Network being the first MVPD to sign up for it.
In October, Disney and Dish, which is not among the initial MVPDs to support ABC’s new policy, avoided a blackout situation by agreeing to extend the terms of their original deal whilst they hammer out a new one.
In November, Dish chairman Charlie Ergen said carriage negotiations were continuing, noting that a new deal could include having the Disney drop its ongoing litigation concerning Dish’s controversial AutoHop ad-skipping DVR service.