Disney/ABC to Launch Ad-Driven HD Content Online

This week as it announced its new fall primetime broadcast schedule, the Disney-ABC Television Group also revealed it will soon offer what it says will be HD-quality streaming video at its ABC.com Web site. Its long-form content also will be made available via Sprint's mobile network, according to various announcements made this week at ABC's annual upfront sales pitch to prospective advertisers.

Testing of the 1280x720 streaming video will begin in July, with some 720p content set to launch in the fall with the new TV season. ABC.com already began offering several ABC series in their entirety such as "Grey's Anatomy" and "Brothers & Sisters" in April, available free with commercial spots.

ABC.com's video streaming is employing a relatively new type of technology from Move Networks, a small firm based near Salt Lake City. The current streaming experience (closer to SD quality) using the free downloadable software with the ABC.com media player produces noticeably higher motion fluidity without periodic freeze up or buffering, compared to most of today's typical broadband video. But for the time being, only some newer computer monitors will be able to fully appreciate 720p images.

ABC spokeswoman Karen Hobson told HD Notebook the initial HD beta-testing with the ABC.com player will begin this summer, with full-episode HD content to be fed at 1280x720 resolution featuring series such as "Ugly Betty" and other (but not all) ABC's primetime series. (720p has always been the HD format-of-choice for ABC and ESPN.) HD content at ABC.com will increase, to include new shows, once the 2007-08 season launches in the fall.

ABC execs also said the ABC.com media player soon could begin to include both national news and local content, too (termed "geo-targeted"), to eventually allow possible inclusion of local ads. Several ABC affiliates' Web sites also offer the ABC.com media player.