Disney: Net TV attracts young audiences

Advertising-supported TV over the Web attracts younger audiences who are more comfortable than their parents with viewing TV fare on a computer display, said Anne Sweeney, president of the Disney-ABC Television Group.

Speaking at the recent Progress and Freedom Foundation's technology policy conference in Aspen, CO, Sweeney said that last year the network used the Disney Channel Web site as a marketing tool. Today, it’s using it as a programming tool.

In a report by News.com, Sweeney said that since Disney Channel shows began appearing on the channel’s Web site, there have been 37 million downloads, an average of a million visitors a day and 1.5 billion page views between June 2 and Aug. 3.

During a two-month trial, ABC distributed for free over the Internet shows such as “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Alias” and “Commander-in-Chief.” Sweeney said the trial resulted in 5.6 million downloads. Because each episode had only one sponsor, she added that 87 percent of the viewers remembered the advertisements they saw with the episode.

“The platforms didn't cannibalize the television exposure of our series,” Sweeney said. “We weren't cannibalizing our iTunes offering.”

Sweeney said ABC would continue to offer free, ad-supported TV shows on a new media player beginning in the fall.