05.22.2006 11:28 AM
ABC's free online shows draw three million viewers in two weeks

The numbers are in. Several ABC television shows offered for free viewing on the Internet drew 3 million viewers in just over two weeks.

The stats, reported by Reuters, were revealed by Robert Iger, Disney's chief executive, in a speech last week in Boston.

ABC began a two-month Internet trial earlier this month, allowing viewers to watch four of its programs, including hits Desperate Housewives and Lost, on ABC.com. The shows included commercials.

Disney is looking at a variety of options for expanding the service, which airs shows on its Web site about 12 hours after they are first broadcast on television.

Each online episode kicks off with a 10-second sponsorship message from a single advertiser. It is followed by three commercials that air during breaks in the program. Viewers have to watch or click through the ads to get to the next segment of the program.

When asked if ABC.com might charge for some shows, Iger said that was among the options that Disney was considering.

In addition to offering ad-supported programming on ABC.com, Disney currently sells ad-free downloads of its top-rated shows through Apple Computer's iTunes online store.

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