Affiliates join ABC's free online streaming; Network declines revenue split on iTunes

After taking heat from some affiliates, ABC has forged partnerships with several affiliate stations for its free two-month online streaming trial.

Disney's ABC Television Group said affiliates in, Dallas, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Orlando, and Knoxville, TN, are participating in the online effort. Most have begun linking their station Web sites to, the site where the network is offering free ad-supported episodes of such series as "Desperate Housewives" and "Commander in Chief" through June 30.

“Having these affiliates participate in and share research from this experiment will help us to best determine a successful model for all of our businesses as they continue to evolve,” ABC senior vice president of affiliate relations John Rouse told Reuters.

However, remaining unresolved is the dicey issue of whether the network will share revenue with the affiliates from its sale of programming in online ventures such as Apple's iTunes.

The venture is proving lucrative for the network. During the release of Disney's second quarter financial results— in which the company's broadcast operations were up 28 percent — iTunes helped the bottom line. Executives said iTunes' users have downloaded 5 million episodes of ABC shows, resulting in $10 million in revenue over the past six months.

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