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ABC, NBC announce new Internet TV initiatives

Disney-ABC Television Group and NBC Universal last week jockeyed for new positions in the race to exploit the distribution of their programming via Internet TV.

On Sept. 20, Disney-ABC Television Group and AOL announced the network would distribute full-length episodes of popular prime-time shows on AOL Video. The shows will be delivered via a co-branded version of’s broadband player.

The deal marks the first time the network’s prime-time programming has been available on a major portal and the first time a major portal has offered a full-featured version of a network’s online video player. Programs are slated to be available starting this week to coincide with ABC’s fall schedule.

New episodes of ABC series will be available free to viewers on AOL the day after they air. Episodes viewed online will contain up to three interactive ads from national advertisers and one local ad slot. The player will be co-branded geographically, displaying “ on AOL” and a local ABC affiliate’s station ID, depending upon where the Internet TV viewer is located.

Since launched its broadband player in September 2006, more than 140 million episodes of ABC prime-time series have been initiated. To date, 80 percent of ABC affiliates have launched or said they will launch the ABC player on their local Web sites.

The day before, NBC Universal said it plans to begin letting viewers download NBC programs for free in November. NBC plans to include commercials in the downloaded programs. Programs would be good for seven days, after which they would no longer be viewable. Viewers will be prevented from saving the shows to disk. Initially, the download service will be available for PCs with Mac and iPod support coming later.