ABC: You've Got AOL

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In the first online distribution deal for ABC’s primetime programming, Disney-ABC Television Group will make full-length, ad-supported episodes of its most popular shows available on Time Warner’s AOL Video site starting Thursday.

AOL Video beginning next week will feature episodes from ABC’s fall lineup of programming the day after their broadcast premiere, including Dancing With the Stars, Desperate Housewives, Lost, The Bachelor, Big Shots and Cavemen. In addition, later this year, AOL deliver short-form programming from ABC via an embedded video player.

To deliver the network’s shows, AOL will use the ABC-developed player, which is based on video-streaming software from Utah startup Move Networks. The video player will be co-branded “ABC.com on AOL,” and will include the station of ID of a user’s local ABC affiliate based on geographic location.

The deal “not only expands the reach of our quality programming, but ensures the finest online viewing experience available through our own broadband player,” Disney-ABC Television Group president Anne Sweeney said, in a statement.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In individual episodes, the ABC.com broadband player on AOL will feature up to three interactive advertisements from one national sponsor, as well as an additional local ad insertion. ABC will sell national advertising for the broadband player, and local affiliates will handle local ad sales.

The other major broadcast networks have also stepped up their online distribution recently. Hulu, the joint venture set up by NBC Universal and News Corp. to provide ad-supported broadcast and cable TV programming to major Internet portals, is set to launch a beta version in October.

Meanwhile, CBS in April announced deals to distribute TV shows through AOL, MSN, CNET Networks, Comcast.net and Comcast’s Fancast, Joost and other partners.

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