Disney declares ABC Web TV trial a hit

Prime time ABC television shows were viewed more than 11 million times on the Web in the first month of a test to see whether consumers would view ads online if the shows are free.

An online exit survey posted the first week of the two-month trial by ABC's parent, the Walt Disney Company, showed that 87 percent of respondents could recall the advertisers that sponsored the episodes they watched, Reuters reported.

That compares with typical ad recall of about 40 percent for commercials viewed on television, industry sources told the news service.

Disney said a revamped version of the free site, which incorporates data gathered during the test, will be launched in the fall. The look of the ABC.com interface will remain similar to the test page, but the shows offered will change over time, said Disney Media Network Co-Chair Anne Sweeney.

The network said the test also showed that making the episodes available on online platforms is not decreasing the amount of traditional television viewing of those shows. “It provided us with a great deal of information about our viewers,” Sweeney told Reuters. “This technology has proved to be additive to linear television.”

The company, which was the first to offer free, ad-supported prime-time television shows online, is now trying to determine how to set advertising rates for the online episodes.