ABC.com Plans Fall Relaunch

NEW YORK ABC said it plans to stream more of its prime-time series this fall on a soon-to-be-relaunched ABC.com, following a successful trial run last spring when it offered free, ad-supported episodes of four of its top shows.

In May and June, ABC.com streamed 5.7 million individual episodes of its shows Lost, Desperate Housewives, Alias and Commander in Chief in what the network is touting as a successful experiment in broadband video.

According to comScore Media Metrix, roughly 872,000 unique viewers logged on to sample the site’s video offerings. “The launch of ABC.com’s broadband player was a huge step forward for us as we strategically reposition our Web sites from marketing tools to rich entertainment platforms,” said Anne Sweeney, president, Disney-ABC Television Group.

The majority of viewers who streamed ABC’s prime-time hits did so within 24 hours of the shows’ appearances on air, and most did so because they had missed those traditional broadcasts, according to a research survey conducted for ABC by Frank N. Magid Associates. Roughly two-thirds of those surveyed viewed complete episodes, with “missed the episode on TV” cited by respondents as the top reason they watched the shows on the Web.

According to the research, 79 percent of those surveyed claimed to have a positive experience with the site, and 87 percent said they would recommend the site to others. The program’s 10 national advertisers received solid feedback as well, as 87 percent of those surveyed said they were able to recall specific Web sponsors.

As a result of the positive response, ABC said it would relaunch ABC.com this fall with an enhanced broadband player.

“We have been extremely pleased with the consumer feedback from the trial, and are busy working on some minor adjustments to the broadband player in order to again make full episodes available to our consumers this fall,” said Albert Cheng, evp, digital media, Disney-ABC TV.